The deputy commander of the U.N. Command said Monday it has started conversations with North Korea over an American soldier who ran into the North last week across the Koreas' heavily armed border.
General Andrew Harrison said the process has started through communications line set under the armistice agreement that stopped the fighting of the 1950-53 Korean War. He said the well-being of Private Travis King remains the command's primary concern, but refused to provide more details, citing the sensitivity of the discussions.
North Korea has remained publicly silent about King, who crossed the border last Tuesday while he was supposed to be heading to Fort Bliss, Texas.
U.S. officials have expressed concern about his well-being and said North Korea was ignoring their requests for information about him.
Analysts say North Korea could wait weeks or even months to provide meaningful information about King to maximize leverage and add urgency to U.S. efforts to secure his release.
Some say North Korea may try to wrest concessions from Washington, such as tying his release to the United States cutting back its military activities with South Korea.