May 28, 2011 08:49
The United States is welcoming a North Korean announcement that it will free an American citizen who has been detained since November on unspecified charges.
A U.S. State Department spokesman said the United States is pleased with the decision to free Jun Young-su, also known as Eddie Jun, and wants to see him back on U.S. soil as soon as possible. He said Jun was in decent health but did not have details on his exact whereabouts or when he would leave North Korea.
The North's official Korean Central News Agency said Friday that visiting U.S. rights envoy Robert King had expressed regret about the case and as a result, Pyongyang had agreed to release Jun on humanitarian grounds.
King is heading a team to assess North Korea's need for food aid. The State Department said Friday that Jun's release will have no influence on whether the U.S. government will grant North Korea's request for emergency food aid. Former President Jimmy Carter unsuccessfully attempted to secure Jun's release during a private visit to the North last month.
There have been reports that Jun, a Christian minister based in China, was involved in missionary work. Pyongyang considers proselytizing a subversive measure aimed at undermining the government.
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