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Confusion over reports that Carter heading to N. Korea

The White House on Monday clarified it was not confirming that former President Jimmy Carter was planning a trip to North Korea to help negotiate the release of an American prisoner.
The White House on Monday clarified it was not confirming that former President Jimmy Carter was planning a trip to North Korea to help negotiate the release of an American prisoner.Navesh Chitrakar / Reuters

U.S. officials on Monday denied confirmation of reports that former President Jimmy Carter was traveling to North Korea and said any such venture would be considered "a private trip," a White House spokesperson said. 

When asked at a briefing with reporters on Monday, deputy White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Carter “is traveling to North Korea on a private trip. He's doing that in his personal capacity."

But shortly after, the White House said it was not confirming the trip, reported by Asian media, and said any such venture would be done without the cooperation of the Obama administration.

State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki was asked the same question, she referred reporters to a Carter Center statement that denied the former commander-in-chief had plans to visit the country.

Radio Free Asia reported that Carter was planning to head to the reclusive country to negotiate the release of American Kenneth Bae, who was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor after being convicted for charges that he was attempting to overthrow the government.

In 2010, Cater assisted in the release of Boston native Aijalon Mahli Gomes, who had been jailed for entering the country illegally.

Reuters contributed to this report.