SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is willing to hold talks without preconditions on "any" issue, former President Jimmy Carter said at the end of a trip to Pyongyang to try to defuse tensions on the divided peninsula.
"Chairman and General Secretary Kim Jong-il said he is willing and the people of North Korea are willing to negotiate with South Korea or with the United States or with the six powers on any subject any time and without any preconditions," Carter told a press conference on Thursday.
Carter and three other former state leaders -- known as The Elders -- met the North's leaders in Pyongyang during a "private" visit in which they were also due to discuss the impoverished North's pleas for food aid.
He did not meet with Kim Jong-il in person, but received a note from him.
(Reporting by Jeremy Laurence and Jack Kim; Editing by David Chance)
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