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2 released journalists leave Pyongyang aboard Clinton's plane

THE two female American journalists just amnestied by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea left Pyongyang on Wednesday morning aboard a chartered plane carrying the homebound former U.S. president Bill Clinton.

The two, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, appeared to be in good health when they boarded the plane in green and red shirts and blue jeans.

Clinton greeted and shook hands with them at the cabin door.

Ling and Lee, who worked for the San Francisco-based Current TV co-founded by former U.S. vice president Al Gore, were captured on March 17 for illegally crossing the DPRK border from China. They were sentenced to 12 years of hard labor in June.

The former U.S. president paid a 20-hour visit to Pyongyang from Tuesday and successfully won the release of the two journalists. During his trip, Clinton met with the DPRK's top leader Kim Jong Il, and the two had talks on improving bilateral relations, an official report from the KCNA new agency said.

The chartered plane carrying the two journalists and the former president left the airport about 8 a.m. local time. Yang Hyong Sop, vice-president of the Presidium of the DPRK Supreme People's Assembly, and Kim Kye Gwan, the country's vice-minister of foreign affairs, saw them off at the airport.

The KCNA had mistakenly reported Clinton's departure early Wednesday morning, and withdrew its report later.


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