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

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

    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.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora