News / Asia

US Envoy Urges N. Korea to Release Detained Americans

U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Ambassador Glyn Davies gestures as he speaks to reporters at a hotel in Beijing, China Nov. 21, 2013.
U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Ambassador Glyn Davies gestures as he speaks to reporters at a hotel in Beijing, China Nov. 21, 2013.
William Ide
Washington’s top envoy to North Korea urged Pyongyang to free two detained American citizens. The call comes amid reports this week that in addition to holding a U.S.-Korean Christian missionary Kenneth Bae, North Korea has also recently detained a 85-year-old U.S. citizen.

According to media reports, Merrill Newman, a former Korean War veteran, was taken from a plane late last month as he was about to depart from North Korea.

This photo provided by the Palo Alto Weekly shows Merrill Newman, a retired finance executive and Red Cross volunteer, 2005.This photo provided by the Palo Alto Weekly shows Merrill Newman, a retired finance executive and Red Cross volunteer, 2005.
x
This photo provided by the Palo Alto Weekly shows Merrill Newman, a retired finance executive and Red Cross volunteer, 2005.
This photo provided by the Palo Alto Weekly shows Merrill Newman, a retired finance executive and Red Cross volunteer, 2005.
The U.S. government has not directly confirmed the detention, citing privacy laws, and North Korea has yet to comment on the situation.

Speaking with reporters in Beijing Thursday, visiting U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Glyn Davies urged Pyongyang to think long and hard about the two cases, noting the fate of Americans abroad was a core concern.

“We of course are calling on North Korea, as in the case of Mr. Kenneth Bae, who has now been there for over a year, to resolve the issue, and to allow our citizens to go free," Davies said.

The envoy is touring Asia this week amid a renewed push to restart long-stalled talks on ending North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs.

He didn’t draw a clear line between the cases and the international community’s broader efforts, but the cases are one of several examples of issues frustrating the resumption of nuclear talks with the North.

Davies says his talks in Beijing with his Chinese counterpart Wu Dawei were fulfilling. But there was no clear sign that a return to the six-party talks that include the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States would resume any time soon.

“This really is up to North Korea," noted Davies. "It's North Korea who seems not seriously interested in making meaningful progress on the nuclear issue. And until we see a manifestation of North Korean seriousness, it's very difficult for me to know what the prospects are for getting back to Six Party."

In recent months, North Korea has been talking about restarting some of its nuclear programs at the same it has suggested new proposals for its return to six-nation talks on ending its atomic programs. The North has also been stressing a dual policy of nuclear and economic development.

North Korea pulled out of the six party-talks in 2009 and says it is willing to return to the table as long as there are no pre-conditions.

In the past, Pyongyang has been accused of using foreign detainees as bargaining chips in negotiations with Western countries over its controversial nuclear weapons program.

North Korea has detained at least six Americans since 2009. While some were given harsh prison sentences, all were eventually released. In most cases, their release followed visits by high-ranking former or current U.S. officials.

Merrill Newman's son has told CNN that it was his father's "life-long dream" to see the North and its culture, after serving in the South as a U.S. infantry officer in the 1950s. He said his father arranged the trip through a North Korea-approved Chinese tour company and had "all the proper visas."

Kenneth Bae being interviewed by Japanese pro-North Korea newspaper Choson Sinbo at North Korean labor camp, June 26, 2013.Kenneth Bae being interviewed by Japanese pro-North Korea newspaper Choson Sinbo at North Korean labor camp, June 26, 2013.
x
Kenneth Bae being interviewed by Japanese pro-North Korea newspaper Choson Sinbo at North Korean labor camp, June 26, 2013.
Kenneth Bae being interviewed by Japanese pro-North Korea newspaper Choson Sinbo at North Korean labor camp, June 26, 2013.
Newman's detention comes almost a year after the arrest of Kenneth Bae, who was detained last November. He was later convicted of state subversion and sentenced to 15 years hard labor.

Bae was detained after entering North Korea as a tour operator. His family says he has diabetes and is in ill health.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Joe from: Citizen
November 21, 2013 9:33 AM
Newman is in serious trouble, a pawn in international relations but also an infantry officer during the war. They may contrive to try him as a war criminal, he may be the last victim of that war.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs