Richardson to make North Korea trip

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) -- A State Department spokesman says New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is going to North Korea on a private visit.

Richardson's spokesman Gilbert Gallegos says the governor will leave Tuesday and return Dec. 20., which comes at a time of heightened tensions two weeks after North Korea shelled a South Korean island.

"I am increasingly concerned with the recent actions by the North Koreans, which have raised tensions and are contributing to instability on the Korean Peninsula," Richardson said. "I am traveling as a private citizen with considerable experience in dealing with the North Koreans.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Wednesday that Richardson will not carry any message from the United State government.

"I am not carrying any messages, but I want to be helpful during this volatile period," Richardson said. "If I can contribute to the easing of tension on the peninsula, the trip will be well worth it."

Richardson has traveled to North Korea several times, most recently in 2007 to recover the remains of American servicemen killed in the Korean War.

Richardson was ambassador to the United Nations in the Clinton administration and for years has served as a roving diplomatic troubleshooter, including missions to North Korea, Sudan, Cuba and Iraq.