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Jimmy Carter to visit N. Korea 'soon' for rescue mission: RFA

2013/07/28 13:44

SEOUL, July 28 (Yonhap) -- Former United States President Jimmy Carter plans to visit North Korea "very soon" to win the release of a Korean-American man detained there, a U.S. radio station reported Sunday.

Carter "is scheduled to visit North Korea very soon to discuss the release of Kenneth Bae," the Washington-based Radio Free Asia said in a report, citing multiple human rights officials.

Last week, Kyodo News Service reported that Carter is considering a visit to Pyongyang at the invitation of the North Korean government, citing a U.S. source.

Bae, a U.S. citizen based in China, was arrested by the North Korean authorities in November on charges of trying to overthrow the communist regime. In April, he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.

Washington has been trying to secure the release of Bae, calling on Pyongyang to grant him amnesty.

The officials also raised the possibility of Carter's meeting with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the RFA reported.

While Pyongyang is attempting to use Bae's case and the expected trip by Cater as political leverage to open dialogue with the U.S., it remains unclear if the high-profile visit will have any effect, experts say.

North Korea has called for the U.S. to hold direct talks with it "without preconditions," ignoring calls by Washington to show sincerity for denuclearization before such talks take place.

Several American citizens were detained in the communist North on similar charges in the past, but all were freed, largely unharmed, with high-profile U.S. political figures' trips to the communist country often leading to their release.

In 2009, former U.S. President Bill Clinton flew to Pyongyang to bring home two female American journalists.

The following year, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter won plaudits when he negotiated the release of American national Aijalon Mahli Gomes.