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Topic: state department
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February 11, 2014 at 8:27 AM
North Korean officials said months ago that American prisoner Kenneth Bae would not be used as a political pawn. Their latest action suggests they’ve changed their mind.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki announced Sunday that North Korean officials had rescinded a second invitation for a special American envoy to fly to Pyongyang to meet with Bae. According to this Associated Press news story, the cancellation “signals an apparent protest of upcoming annual military drills between Washington and Seoul and an alleged mobilization of U.S. nuclear-capable B-52 bombers during training near the Korean Peninsula. North Korea calls the planned drills a rehearsal for invasion, a claim the allies deny.”
North Korean leaders would be wise to let Bae — imprisoned for 15 months now — return to his family before his health deteriorates any further. Bae is not a public official or representative of the U.S. government. He entered the country numerous times as a tour operator before he was detained in November 2012. He is a father, husband, son and brother, and a man of faith who has apologized (possibly under duress) to the North Korean regime for whatever crimes they claim he committed.
The Seattle Times editorial board has published numerous editorials in support of a humanitarian release for Bae. Below is video of CNN’s social media campaign, launched last Friday, to raise awareness about Bae’s plight.
The former Lynnwood resident’s family says he has been transferred from a hospital back into a labor camp to continue a 15-year sentence. Here’s an excerpt of their latest public statement: (more…)
October 25, 2013 at 6:30 AM
U.S. diplomats will soon be getting their feet wet in the details of the Columbia River Treaty, a document the United States and Canada have used to oversee river operations for a half century.
As my column explains, the U.S. State Department will soon receive proposed treaty revisions, and decide whether to proceed with negotiations, and what those talks might include. Next year, 2014, represents the 10-year lead time the treaty requires for substantive changes or termination in 2024.
The treaty is a complex working document, but most of the tension is about the formula used to calculate the Canadian Entitlement, the payment made for Canada’s initial participation and continuing role. One of the potential casualties of any future fallout over payments is the successful system of flood management in the treaty. A potential replacement model sounds way too informal and spontaneous to inspire confidence.
As the regional recommendations head to Washington, D.C., it will be interesting to see what the State Department chooses to defend and fight for.
April 30, 2013 at 6:10 AM
The charges North Korea filed against Kenneth Bae of Lynnwood last week are “unwarranted,” and he should be released, a U.S. State Department official said Monday.
“These charges, we believe, are completely unwarranted,” said Joseph Y. Yun, the acting assistant secretary in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.“We really do urge North Korea to release him. There is no reason to hold him.”
As he spoke to a State Department briefing of the Association of Opinion Journalists, Yun hit the right notes about the man who has been in custody almost six months. My colleague Thanh Tan has written editorials urging attention to Bae’s plight. The Times last editorial said: “According to previous news reports, North Korean officials have charged Bae with committing ‘hostile acts against the republic.’ Political experts remain skeptical of the totalitarian state’s true motives. U.S. officials must exhaust diplomatic channels to get to the bottom of this.”
Yun noted that tensions between Pyongyang and Washington, D.C, have been especially heightened given North Korea’s recent nuclear tests and missile launches. The government of North Korea detained Bae last November while he was leading a tour near the border with China. Late last week, The government of North Korea announced it was charging Bae with trying to overthrow the government, according to this report by The Associated Press.
“As you know our consular office is represented by the Embassy of Sweden and they have visited him three or four times already,” Yun told about 20 editorial page editors,writers and columnists. “He should be … released on a humanitarian basis and also lack of substance.”
In a separate press conference a department spokesman said Swedish officials had visited him as recently as Friday.