Yonhap News reports that the U.S. special envoy on North Korean human rights issues plans to visit North Korea to try to secure the release of jailed American Kenneth Bae.
Robert King plans to visit Pyongyang on Monday or later this month at the latest to consult with North Korean officials on the release of Kenneth Bae, according to the Choson Sinbo, a pro-North Korean newspaper in Japan.
The U.S. government, however, maintained its characteristically cautious approach toward the issue. Asked about the report at a press briefing, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said she has no new information.
“What I can provide to all of you has not changed, which is that we have long offered to send Ambassador King to North Korea,” she said. “That hasn‘t changed. Our focus here is on securing the release of Kenneth Bae. Because of that, we’re not going to outline every element of communication, every effort that’s underway.”
Bae told Choson Sinbo, a pro-North Korean newspaper in Japan, that he heard about King’s planned trip to Pyongyang from a Swedish diplomat.
The Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang serves as a protecting power for Americans in the communist nation. The United States has had no diplomatic relations with North Korea following the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in a cease-fire, not a peace treaty.
The report came a week after North Korea’s ambassador to Britain, Hyun Hak-bong, said in a video interview that Bae would be freed when he finishes his prison term. “When he finishes his term according to the law, there is no reason not to release him,” Hyun said in the interview with Sky News, a 24-hour news channel in Britain.