North Korea

North Korea says jailed American Kenneth Bae not a 'bargaining chip'

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 May, 2013, 5:21pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am


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North Korea said yesterday it would not use the case of a jailed US citizen as a "bargaining chip" with Washington, and no prominent Americans would be invited to discuss his case.

"Some media of the US said that the DPRK (North Korea) tried to use Pae's case as a political bargaining chip. This is a ridiculous and wrong guess," a foreign ministry spokesman told the official KCNA news agency.

"The DPRK has no plan to invite anyone of the US as regards Pae's issue."

Pyongyang said on Thursday it had sentenced Pae, known in the US as Kenneth Bae, to 15 years' hard labour for "hostile acts" aimed at toppling the communist regime.

The Korean-American tour operator was arrested in November as he entered the northeastern port city of Rason.

Several Americans have been held in North Korea in recent years, and been freed after visits by high-profile Americans such as former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

The development comes amid high military tension. Pyongyang is angry about UN sanctions imposed after its nuclear test in February and US-South Korean joint military drills.