Taking a break from his obsessive quest to pardon a long-dead gunman, New Mexico governor Bill Richardson traveled to North Korea last week, a trip the Washington Post officially described as an "unofficial diplomatic foray" into the country. In a post-WikiLeaks world, that sounds rather official. It is not, says the State Department. Richardson is merely making a "private visit" to the brutal dictatorship, the kind any former U.N. ambassador is apt to make amidst fresh upheaval on the subcontinent. That's why Richardson brought Wolf Blitzer and a CNN camera crew along with him. Because the trip was private and unofficial, and Richardson and the United States government wanted it to stay that way.
Or did they? According to ABC News, Richardson secured a "diplomatic breakthrough" in the region Monday, with the North Koreans agreeing to let United Nations nuclear safety inspectors return to the country. The agreement came just before a South Korean live-fire artillery drill on Yeonpyong Island that had prompted threats of reprisals from the North. Additionally, the North Koreans agreed to sell 12,000 fuel rods used in uranium enrichment, the creation of a hotline between both Koreas and the United States and the creation of a military commission.
Significant breakthroughs one and all. Just know: the White House wasn't involved. Gibbs has never even heard of this Bill Richardson kid.