North Korea says called off envoy visit because of US military drills

September 1, 2013 02:32


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SEOUL - North Korea said late on Saturday it withdrew an invitation for a US envoy to visit the country to discuss the fate of a jailed American citizen because US military drills on the peninsula made humanitarian dialogue impossible.

Robert King, special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, was scheduled to go to Pyongyang last Friday on what the US State Department called a "humanitarian mission" to secure the release of Kenneth Bae.

Bae, a Korean American who had worked as a Christian missionary, had been convicted of crimes against the North Korean state and is serving a 15-year hard labor sentence.

The North's Foreign Ministry said military drills last week by the United States and South Korea involving a B-52 bomber flight over the peninsula was "the most striking manifestation of the offensive and aggressive nature" of the exercise.

"The US thus beclouded the hard-won atmosphere of humanitarian dialogue in a moment," an unnamed ministry spokesman said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.

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