President Obama is considering sending former Vice President Al Gore to North Korea to negotiate the release of two American journalists from Current TV, Reuters reports.
Aides to Obama have been working behind the scenes to secure the release of the two women, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who were sentenced on Monday to twelve years of hard labor.
The network they both work for was co-founded by Gore. Victor D. Cha, who holds the Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the former vice president would be the best person to attempt to secure their release.
North Koreans are "very sensitive about their public face," Cha told the San Francisco Chronicle, and having Gore there would help ease their concerns.
According to CNN, the idea of sending either Gore or New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson to Pyongyang has been floated to the North Koreans. No answer has come so far.
The New York Times' Robert Mackey speculated Monday that Gore's higher profile might make him a more attractive envoy, even though Richardson has more experience in these kinds of negotiations: "Would a visit from Mr. Richardson do the trick, or might the regime in Pyongyang be holding out for a visit from a more prestigious envoy, like the former Vice President?"
Asked about the possibility of sending Gore last week, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly did not rule it out.
"It's a very, very sensitive issue, I'm not going to go into it," Kelly told reporters. "This is such a sensitive issue, I'm just not going to go into those kinds of discussions that we may or may not have had," he added when pressed.