News / Asia

US Is Low Key on Prospective Carter Trip to North Korea

The State Department is declining to publicly confirm reports that former President Jimmy Carter will visit North Korea this week to seek the release of a jailed U.S. citizen.  It says, however, everything possible is being done to try to gain the release of ailing American Aijalon Mahli Gomes.

Although senior officials are quoted by news outlets as confirming the former President's travel plans, the State Department is declining to do so in public, saying it does not want to jeopardize prospects for Gomes' release.

The 30-year-old American was arrested in January for illegally crossing into North Korea from China and later sentenced to eight years in prison and fined about $700,000.

North Korea reported last month that Gomes had tried to commit suicide while in custody, and earlier this month it allowed a four-member U.S. team, including two doctors, to visit him in Pyongyang.

North Korean officials spurned a request by the team to release Gomes to their custody, and reportedly suggested that the United States send a senior envoy as it did last year when former President Bill Clinton went there to secure the release of two American journalists.

Pressed by reporters Tuesday about a prospective visit by former President Carter, State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley said he did not want to harm chances for Gomes release by discussing what he said would be a private humanitarian effort.  Crowley said U.S. officials are concerned about Gomes' health and welfare, and are doing everything in their power to see him returned to the United States.

"Where we have individuals incarcerated we support them, and where appropriate we seek their return to the United States," said Crowley.  "We've sent a team to Pyongyang to evaluate Mr. Gomes.  Swedish diplomats were in to also see him last week. We are concerned about his health and welfare.  We have been communicating with the government of North Korea about this case.  We are doing everything possible to have him return to the United States.  This is what the United States government does anywhere in the world, at all times, on behalf of all of our citizens."

A senior official who spoke to reporters here said the United States is not offering North Korea any money as part of the effort to gain Gomes' release.

Spokesman Crowley, under questioning, said the United States is willing to evaluate a request by North Korea to the world community for assistance in connection with the current flooding along its Yalu River border with China.  He said, though, that he is unaware of any appeal for flood aid by North Korea.

Despite its political differences with Pyongyang, the United States was the biggest single contributor of food aid to North Korea following its famine in the early 1990's.

U.S. food assistance continued into last year, but was halted when North Korea expelled members of non-governmental organizations tasked with assuring that the aid was reaching those truly in need.

Policy analysts say a Carter visit to North Korea might help improve the chilly relationship between Pyongyang and Washington, but spokesman Crowley said such an effort should not be seen as a political message to Pyongyang.

The United States, in the wake of the March sinking of a South Korean warship blamed on North Korea, has been calling on Pyongyang to cease provocative behavior and meet terms for a return to Chinese-sponsored talks on its nuclear program.


You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid