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Jailed American not a bargaining chip for US talks, says North Korea

May 5, 2013 14:01 IST

#Human Rights   #Kenneth Bae   #NewsTracker   #North Korea   #US   #World  

North Korea said on Sunday that it had no intention of using an American it sentenced to hard labour for 15 years as a bargaining chip in talks with the United States.

North Korea sentenced Kenneth Bae, a Korean American who travelled to visit North Korea last November, on Thursday for what is said were crimes against the state.

Reuters

Reuters

North Korea has in the past used detained American as bargaining counters in dealings with the United States. But the North's state news agency dismissed speculation it might do so again.

"Some media of the US said that the DPRK tried to use Bae's case as a political bargaining chip. This is ridiculous and wrong guess," the KCNA news agency reported, citing a Foreign Ministry spokesman.

Bae, 44, was born in South Korea but is a naturalized US citizen. His sentencing comes after two months of sabre-rattling that saw North Korea threaten the United States and South Korea with nuclear war.

Human rights activists in South Korea say Bae may have been arrested for taking pictures of starving children.

A US official said last week Washington was not looking for an envoy to try to secure Bae's release.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the United States had sought in recent years to break out of a pattern of having to resolve repeated crises with North Korea through deals.

The US State Department urged North Korea to grant Bae amnesty and immediate release.

The North's ministry spokesman said the Bae case showed the United States had not changed its "hostile" policy.

"As long as the US hostile policy goes on, Americans' illegal acts should be countered with strict legal sanctions. This is a conclusion drawn by the DPRK," the KCNA news agency reported.

In the past, prominent Americans including former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton have travelled to North Korea to try to free detained Americans.

Reuters