U.S. special envoy Robert King to visit N. Korea for Kenneth Bae
The U.S. State Department and the White House say Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues Robert King will travel to Pyongyang on Friday to free Kenneth Bae, who has been detained in the reclusive state since November last year.
During the visit, Bae is likely to be released from prison and brought back home with Ambassador King the next day.
The missionary and tourism operator had been accused of participating in activities designed to overthrow the North Korean leadership, by infiltrating at least 2-hundred-50 students into the country.
North Korea has reportedly invited top U.S. officials to visit Pyongyang regarding the issue through the "New York Channel," a diplomatic line set up between Washington and Pyongyang.
During a humanitarian trip to Asia this week, King said the U.S. had continuously requested for Bae's release.
"We've requested the North release Mr. Bae on humanitarian grounds, his health is suffering and we've requested that he be released. We hope that they will listen to our request."
Although the U.S. envoy's talks with his North Korean counterparts will likely be limited to the issue of Kenneth Bae, experts say King's visit may help in easing the standoff between Washington and Pyongyang.
This is the first visit to Pyongyang by a top U.S. official since young leader Kim Jong-un succeeded power.
In fact, not long after King's last visit to the North in 2011 to free American citizen Eddie Jun, the two countries held high-level talks and discussed North Korea's denuclearization as well as food aid.
And as his visit comes amid a series of inter-Korean talks, hopes are high that the elevated tensions on the Korean peninsula may further cool off.
Han Da-eun, Arirang News.
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