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N. Korea: Military Drills Prompted Envoy Visit Cancellation

Kenneth Bae works on farm with North Korean guard watching, June 2013 file photo courtesy of Japan's Choson Sinbo.
North Korea says it rescinded its offer for a senior U.S. envoy to visit Pyongyang because of U.S. and South Korean military drills that took place on the peninsula last week.

U.S. envoy Robert King was due to travel from Tokyo to Pyongyang Friday to request that a jailed Korean-American, Kenneth Bae, be freed on humanitarian grounds. But on Saturday a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said the military drills made humanitarian dialogue impossible.

The State Department on Friday said it was "surprised and disappointed" by North Korea's decision. It also expressed renewed concern about the health of detainee Kenneth Bae.

The U.S. and South Korea last week staged their annual computer simulated drills that test their combined defensive readiness against any North Korean aggression.

Every time the two allies conduct any joint military drills, North Korea accuses the two of making war preparations.

Kenneth Bae is a 44-year-old Christian missionary who was arrested after entering North Korea as a tour operator last year. He was convicted of trying to topple North Korea's government and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.

Bae's family says his health is quickly deteriorating.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.

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