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Freed journalists arrive at Bob Hope Airport

August 05, 2009|By Christopher Cadelago

The former president and husband of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met for several hours with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il before securing the women’s release through the cautiously negotiated rescue mission. The trip reportedly came after weeks of conversations involving several senior White House and State Department officials, academics and Congressional leaders.

“When the information came to us, from the young women themselves, then to former vice president Gore, that sending my husband would be the best way to ensure their release, of course we took that very seriously,” Hillary Clinton told the “Today” show audience Wednesday morning while the plane carrying her husband and the freed journalists was en route to Burbank.

The aircraft touched down at 5:52 a.m. and taxied to the hangar built by film producer and Democratic contributor Steve Bing. After the women received warm embraces from their families, Clinton finally disembarked the aircraft to applause and a giant hug from Gore.

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After Ling spoke, Gore publicly welcomed the pair home. He thanked everyone involved in the pair’s safe release and said Obama and his staff “have been deeply involved in this humanitarian effort.”

“This has been an ordeal for them, but I want you all to know your families have been, unbelievable — passionate, involved, committed, innovative,” Gore said.

“Laura,” he said, turning to Ling, “Your mom’s been making your special soup for two days now.”

Lisa Ling, the sister of Laura Ling and also a broadcast journalist, fielded questions from the media amid U.S. Secret Service agents and police officers scattered throughout the hangar.

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