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 On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

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.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid