N. Korea Axes Talks on US Prisoner Over 'Blackmail'

US envoy's trip called off

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Sep 2, 2013 3:12 AM CDT

(Newser) – North Korea has withdrawn its invitation to a US envoy to visit the country over a detained American because Washington perpetrated a "grave provocation" by allegedly mobilizing nuclear-capable bombers during military drills with Seoul that ended Friday. Analysts say the move signals that possible informal negotiations between the two countries over Kenneth Bae are not going smoothly, with Pyongyang likely seeking some concessions from Washington in return for releasing him.

Bob King, the US special envoy for North Korean human rights, had been scheduled to travel to Pyongyang this week for talks on Bae, a 45-year-old tour operator and Christian missionary who has been detained since November for committing "hostile acts." Bae was hospitalized last month with serious health problems. A North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman says the US "beclouded the hard-won atmosphere of humanitarian dialogue in a moment" by allegedly infiltrating B-52H strategic bombers into the sky above the peninsula during military exercises, using "the most blatant nuclear blackmail against us."

This 2011 family photo shows Kenneth Bae.
This 2011 family photo shows Kenneth Bae.   (AP Photo/Courtesy Terri Chung, File)
Bob King, the US special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, is seen in Japan last week.
Bob King, the US special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, is seen in Japan last week.   (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama, File)
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