North Korea's official news agency said leader Kim Jong Il has pardoned two American journalists and ordered their release. The official Korean Central News Agency said early Wednesday from Pyongyang that the order was issued following a request from former President Bill Clinton. Clinton flew to the North Korean capital on Tuesday on a mission to negotiate the release of Laura Ling and Euna Lee, reporters for former Vice President Al Gore's Current TV media venture. Even before word of the pardon, analysts agreed that Clinton's visit to North Korea to free the reporters could be an opening for a thaw in relations between the two countries. In a surprise visit to Pyongyang, Clinton met with North Korean leader Kim Jong II, holding "exhaustive" talks that covered a wide range of topics, state-run media said.