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Carter, 3 other ex-leaders to push for renewed Koreas talks

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Carter visits Korea
  • The Elders will hold a news conference on Thursday
  • Tensions between North Korea and the West have spiked in recent years
  • South Korea accuses the North of torpedoing and sinking its warship

(CNN) -- Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and three other ex-leaders will arrive in Seoul on Thursday on the third leg of a trip that hopes to restart long-stalled talks between North and South Korea.

The visit will come after two days of meetings with North Korean officials.

Carter and the group known as "The Elders" -- former presidents Martti Ahtisaari of Finland and Mary Robinson of Ireland, and former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Brundtland -- will hold a news conference to talk about what they have learned during their visits to China, and North and South Korea, a statement from the group said.

The Elders is an independent group of global leaders founded by former South African President Nelson Mandela.

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While in China, the group met with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, and a Chinese expert on North Korea's nuclear situation.

Currently in North Korea, the Elders expect to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, along with other senior officials and diplomats. Carter said they went to Pyongyang at the invitation of the North Korean government.

The group will meet with South Korean officials on Thursday.

Tensions between North Korea and the West have spiked in recent years due in part to concerns over Pyongyang's nuclear development program.

The United States and South Korea held joint military drills in February, despite North Korea's warning to the South not to carry out the drills, calling them a provocation.

South Korea accuses the North of torpedoing and sinking one of its warships in March 2010, killing 46 sailors. In November, North Korea shelled Yeonpyeong Island, killing two South Korean marines and two civilians.

Carter has a long history of dealing with North Korea. His 1994 talks with the late Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il's father, paved the way for the "Agreed Framework" the same year -- an agreement designed to rein in Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.