The United States signaled to North Korea
on Thursday that it could improve its strained ties with
Washington by releasing US citizens, after Pyongyang detained
an 85-year-old retiree from California who is an American
veteran of the Korean War.
Months of hostile rhetoric early this year pushed tension to
some of the highest levels in years with North Korea, which has
conducted nuclear tests, threatening a nuclear strike on the
United States and South Korea.
last month detained Merrill Newman
, a veteran of
the Korean War and a retiree from the upscale Northern
city of Palo Alto
, taking him off a plane as he was
about to leave the country where he had been visiting on a
The reclusive Asian nation has also held Korean-American
Christian missionary Kenneth Bae
since November 2012, sentencing
him to 15 years of hard labor. His detention followed a long
series of acrimonious exchanges between North Korea
's nuclear program.