Ex-U.S. President Jimmy Carter and three other former leaders arrived in Beijing on Sunday en route to North Korea to discuss the revival of nuclear disarmament talks.
Carter and the group of veteran statesmen known as the Elders are to travel to Pyongyang on Tuesday as part of international efforts to restart the negotiations on ending North Korea's nuclear program.
The group, which includes former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Brundtland and former Irish President Mary Robinson, said it also plans to discuss North Korea's chronic food shortages.
International disarmament talks with North Korea have been stalled for the past two years amid growing concerns over its nuclear programs.
"At a time when official dialogue with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea appears to be at a standstill, we aim to see how we may be of assistance in reducing tensions and help the parties address key issues including denuclearization," Carter was quoted as saying in a statement.
Carter, a Democrat from Georgia who was president from 1977 to 1981, is well regarded in North Korea despite its longtime animosity with the U.S. He has visited several times in a private capacity, most recently last August to secure the release of an imprisoned American.
Carter told reporters earlier this month that he would "try to induce the North Koreans to give up their nuclear weapons" and help the country work out a peace treaty with South Korea and the United States. No peace treaty was ever signed after the 1950-53 Korean War.