News / Asia

    US Rejects Link Between N. Korea Nuclear Diplomacy, Jailed American

    Robert King, U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, stands in front of campaign posters of Japan's abduction issue during a meeting with Japan's Minister-in-Charge of the Abduction Issue and head of the national public safety commission Keiji Furuya (not in picture) in Tokyo August 28, 2013.
    Robert King, U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, stands in front of campaign posters of Japan's abduction issue during a meeting with Japan's Minister-in-Charge of the Abduction Issue and head of the national public safety commission Keiji Furuya (not in picture) in Tokyo August 28, 2013.
    Reuters
    The case of a U.S. citizen jailed in North Korea is a human rights issue that has no connection to long-stalled talks over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons, the State Department said on Wednesday.
     
    Robert King, U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, is slated to travel to Pyongyang on Friday. The State Department on Tuesday described his trip as a “humanitarian mission” aimed at winning the release of ailing Kenneth Bae, a Christian missionary and tour operator.
     
    The release of Bae, sentenced by North Korea's Supreme Court in April to 15 years of hard labor for state subversion, would remove a big irritant in U.S. relations with Pyongyang.
     
    State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said, however, that King's trip is unrelated to international diplomacy over North Korea, which has conducted three nuclear weapons tests since 2006.
     
    “I don't want to link the two in any way,” she told reporters.
     
    “We have repeatedly said that separate and apart from any of the other issues we talk about with North Korea that Kenneth Bae needs to be released immediately,” added Harf.
     
    Harf reiterated Washington's position that it expects North Korea to live up to a denuclearization-for-aid deal it signed in 2005 at six-party talks in Beijing.
     
    Those talks involving China, Japan, the two Koreas and the United States have been frozen for nearly five years, during which time North Korea conducted three nuclear tests and a series of long-range missile launches that prompted stiff U.N. sanctions.
     
    “We will continue to hold [North Korea] to those commitments and its international obligations,” said Harf.
     
    “The onus is on North Korea here,” she said.
     
    North Korea said in July it would not give up its nuclear deterrent until Washington ends its “hostile policy” towards Pyongyang, although it was ready to revive nuclear talks. The two countries do not have diplomatic relations and official visits between them are rare.
     
    Bae, 45, was detained in November as he led a tour group through the northern region of the North Korea. The court that sentenced him said he used his tourism business to form groups aimed at overthrowing the government.
     
    Family Prays for Release
     
    Kenneth Bae being interviewed by Japanese pro-North Korea newspaper Choson Sinbo at a North Korean labor camp, June 26, 2013.Kenneth Bae being interviewed by Japanese pro-North Korea newspaper Choson Sinbo at a North Korean labor camp, June 26, 2013.
    x
    Kenneth Bae being interviewed by Japanese pro-North Korea newspaper Choson Sinbo at a North Korean labor camp, June 26, 2013.
    Kenneth Bae being interviewed by Japanese pro-North Korea newspaper Choson Sinbo at a North Korean labor camp, June 26, 2013.
    Bae's sister, Terri Chung, told Reuters on Aug. 10 that her brother was moved from a prison labor farm to a state hospital because he suffered from a range of health problems, including an enlarged heart and chronic diabetes.
     
    Asked about King's trip, Chung said on Wednesday: “We are hoping and praying for Kenneth's release, but we are declining interviews at this time due to the uncertainty and sensitivity of the situation.”
     
    The foreign ministry of Sweden, which handles U.S. interests in Pyongyang, said it understood Bae was still in the hospital, where Swedish diplomats had last visited him on Aug. 9.
     
    Bill Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who has traveled to North Korea to retrieve detained Americans, said he was optimistic for Bae because it was unlikely King “would be going unless it looked good.”
     
    Previous trips, including those by former U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, as well as his own visits, involved “outsiders and not official representatives,” Richardson told Reuters by telephone.
     
    “This time it's an official representative, which is a good sign,” he said. “Hopefully it will mean that the North Koreans will say something positive about resuming the dialog, which I believe is very much needed.” he said.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.