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

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
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.

AppleAndroid