North Korea said Friday that it will deport an American citizen it detained one month ago for illegally entering the country. The announcement suggests that North Korea still wants to maintain the mood for dialogue with the United States despite stalled nuclear diplomacy, the AP reports. In the past, North Korea often held American citizens it arrested for similar charges for an extended period before high-profile US figures traveled to Pyongyang to secure their freedom. On Friday, the Korean Central News Agency said the US citizen was detained on Oct. 16 for illegally entering the country from China. It said the US citizen told investigators that he was under the direction of the Central Intelligence Agency.
The KCNA report, which named the American as Bruce Byron Lance, said North Korea decided to deport him but did not say why and when. In May, North Korea released three American detainees in a goodwill gesture weeks before leader Kim Jong Un's summit with President Trump in Singapore in June. The three Americans returned home on a flight with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Their release was a striking contrast to the fate of Otto Warmbier, an American university student who died last year days after he was released from North Korea in a coma after 17 months in captivity. (Analysts say they have located at least 13 hidden missile bases in North Korea.)