It's surprising the people you come across in Rodong Simmun, the official North Korean newspaper. Here's Tony Blair's former Chief of Staff Jonathan Powell, in Pyongyang, dated this Thursday the 3rd:
What's he looking at?
A delegation of politicians from various political parties of Europe led by Chief Executive Officer of Inter Mediate Jonathan Powell, former Downing Street Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Tony Blair, Wednesday toured the Sci-Tech Complex.
Being briefed on the fact that the complex was built into a model of the Juche-based architectural art and the best all-purpose sci-tech base, they looked round various places including the applied sci-tech hall, dream hall for children and e-library.
On the same day, they toured Mirae Scientists Street.
Inter Mediate's mission is to advance conflict resolution and reconciliation through dialogue and mediation with the aim of achieving lasting settlement to violent and complex conflicts.
By doing so, we aim not simply to end the suffering directly caused by conflict, but also to address the problems of poverty, disease and economic stagnation that are the inevitable by-products of violence and political unrest.
Presumably, then, Powell believes that by engaging with the North Koreans, and by being photographed admiring the wonders of Juche-based architectural art, he's helping here to "advance conflict resolution" and working towards "the aim of achieving lasting settlement" to the particular violent and complex conflict which the North Korean regime is engaged in, against South Korea in particular, and against the rest of the world in general.
Unfortunately, he's deluding himself. He shouldn't be there. Not ever, but especially not now, not with the recent tough UN sanctions after the last nuclear test, followed by the petulant firing of missiles - not to mention the Corpulent Leader's demand that his forces should be ready to use nuclear weapons at any time. He shouldn't be there, and he shouldn't allow himself to be seen, as part of the regime's propaganda, to be glorifying the achievements of the worst human rights abusers in the world.
As the Inter Mediate website shows, and as Powell's recent history would suggest, this is a man with an exaggerated sense of his own importance. His last book argued, controversially - absurdly - that we should always negotiate with terrorists: even ISIS, even Boko Haram. Though I don't believe he was personally offering to head the delegation to Raqqa.
This time, I would suggest, he's out of his depth. As with his former boss, it's been downhill since those heady Downing Street years.