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Hillary Clinton 'Relieved' U.S. Reporters Freed

NAIROBI, Kenya -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday that the two journalists released from North Korea are "extremely excited" to be on their way back to the United States.

Clinton told reporters in Nairobi that she had spoken with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, who traveled to Pyongyang to secure the release of the journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee. The ex-president left North Korea aboard a charter jetliner with Ling and Lee late Tuesday EDT. They were flying directly to Los Angeles so the women could be reunited with their families.

Hillary Clinton said she was "very happy and relieved" that the women are on their way home.
The Obama administration said Tuesday that the families of the two reporters had asked former President Clinton to go to Pyongyang. A senior administration official said the families were joined in the request by former Vice President Al Gore.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to provide details of events leading up to Clinton's trip, said the former president's mission did not include any discussions about issues beyond the release of Ling, 32, and Lee, 36, both journalists with Gore's Current TV media venture.

The official also rejected an official report by the North Korean news agency which said Clinton had delivered an apology about the incident to the country's ailing leader, Kim Jong Il.

"Everything went well," Hillary Clinton said Wednesday. "They are extremely excited to be reunited soon when they touch down in California. It was just a good day to be able to see this happen."

The journalists were arrested after they allegedly crossed into the country from China earlier this year. They had been sentenced in June to 12 years of hard labor.

They were captured while on assignment to collect material for a report about trafficking of North Korean women into China.