According to a report from the Cable, the former president will be leaving the U.S. on a private trip in which he will aim to free a U.S. citizen trapped in the country. Aijalon Mahli Gomes, a 30-year-old Boston resident, was sentenced to eight years in prison in April after he was arrested crossing into the country from China. The State Department had attempted to release Gomes earlier this month but was unable to see the effort through.
Carter is said to be traveling as a private citizen and will not be accompanied by U.S. government officials on the mission, reminiscent of fellow former president Bill Clinton’s trip last August to bring home Laura Ling and Euna Lee. The Cable says John Kerry had offered to go and pick up Gomes but was not selected since he’s a serving U.S. official, and the administration wants to distance this effort from its current stance toward the country as best it can. New Mexico governor Bill Richardson was also considered for the job.
And like Clinton before him, Carter will be careful to stay out of policy issues, experts say.
“I don’t anticipate that in any way President Carter will be carrying water for Obama or for any change in policy toward North Korea, because what is required for North Korea to move forward in negotiations with the United States is clear,” said L. Gordon Flake, executive director of the Mansfield Foundation, a think tank focused on Northeast Asia.
The report claims Carter is likely to leave within days, and may bring his wife and daughter along for the trip.