Michael Bristow of BBC News in Beijing writes that a group of retired global leaders formed some years ago by Nelson Mandela are visiting the DPRK. The Elders Group, which includes former US President Jimmy Carter, former Finland President Martti Ahtisaari, Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, former head of the World Health Organisation and Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland are seeking to resolve the stand-off over the country`s nuclear program as well as find out more about the severe food shortages. More of the article below:
They will hold meetings in Beijing, Pyongyang and Seoul before preparing a report, which they will give to all those involved in the North Korea negotiations.
At a press conference held at the start of their visit, President Carter said the group had been invited by “top leaders” from North Korea.
The country’s nuclear weapons programme will be a main topic of conversation.
A number of nations, including China, South Korea and the United States, have been trying to persaude Pyongyang to give up these weapons for some years.
What appears to be a worsening food situation in North Korea will also be on the agenda.
“A third of the children there are malnourished and stunted in their growth because of a deprivation of adequate food supplies,” said Mr Carter, who was trained as a nuclear engineer.
He added that the authorities in the North have this year reduced the daily calorie intake from 1,400 to just 700.
The Elders group was formed four years ago by Nelson Mandela.
Members believe that their unique experience as former leaders – and their independence from any country or organisation – allows them to help resolve some of the world’s most intractable problems.