North Korea withdraws invitation for US diplomat seeking American's release

The State Department did not offer an explanation for North Korea's change of heart. The reclusive country had been seen as seeking to improve its international standing recently, taking steps this week to reopen an industrial park jointly operated with U.S. ally South Korea that had been shuttered since April.

“We remain gravely concerned about Mr. Bae’s health and we continue to urge the DPRK authorities to grant Mr. Bae special amnesty and immediate release him on humanitarian grounds,” Harf said.

North Korea regularly uses American prisoners as bargaining chips for U.S. concessions on sanctions and food aid.

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