U.S. envoy says no guarantee N. Korea will free Bae
The U.S. envoy who will go to North Korea Friday to plead for the humanitarian release of Kenneth Bae, of Lynnwood, says there is no guarantee his mission will succeed.
The Associated Press
TOKYO — A senior U.S. envoy who will travel to North Korea later this week said Wednesday that he plans to strongly appeal for the release of a Lynnwood man sentenced to 15 years of hard labor by the authoritarian state but added that the United States has received no guarantees from North Korea the ailing man will be freed.
Robert King, the U.S. special envoy for North Korean human-rights issues, said during a stopover in Tokyo that the United States is increasingly concerned about the health of 45-year-old Kenneth Bae, a tour operator and Christian missionary who was arrested last November and accused of committing “hostile acts” against North Korea.
“We’re going to make an appeal,” King said after a meeting with Japanese officials. “He has health problems and we’re hopeful we will be able to make progress on that.”
When asked if he was confident Bae would be released, he said, “We haven’t been told that anything is definite.”
King will fly to Pyongyang from a U.S. military base near Tokyo on Friday, and fly back on Saturday.
It will be the first public trip to North Korea by a U.S. administration official in more than two years. The U.S. has requested a pardon and amnesty on humanitarian grounds for Bae, who suffers multiple health problems and was recently hospitalized. The U.S. has been calling for North Korea to grant amnesty since Bae was sentenced on April 30.
Bae is at least the sixth American detained in North Korea since 2009. The others were eventually allowed to leave without serving out their terms, some after prominent Americans, including former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, visited North Korea.
Bae’s sister revealed earlier this month that he was moved from a labor camp to a hospital after losing more than 50 pounds. Terri Chung, of Edmonds, says her brother, a father of three, suffers from diabetes, an enlarged heart, liver problems and back pain.
Associated Press writers Matthew Pennington and Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.