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“The director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., on Sunday described his secret mission to seek the release of two Americans held in North Korea as a series of grim encounters with officials who expressed disappointment that he had not come bearing a “breakthrough” in relations,” the New York Times reports.  

“But he said the North Koreans wanted someone currently in government, and with national security credentials. Also, he noted, he knows South Korea well as a former director of intelligence for American forces there. The intelligence chief said he was greeted at the state guesthouse in central Pyongyang by the minister of state security — the highest-ranking official with whom he would meet — and an interpreter. It quickly became clear, he said, that ‘they were disappointed, frankly, that I didn’t have some breakthrough.'”  

“The release of the two men was seen as a sign that the young and unpredictable North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, hoped to ease the deep chill in the countries’ relationship.”

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