North Korea has revoked its recent invitation to a US envoy over “grave provocation” perpetrated by the United States. The US special envoy, Bob King, was set to meet with North Korea to hopefully release Kenneth Bae.
Bae, an American citizen, was detained by the reclusive country in November for allegedly committing “hostile acts.” Bae was a tour operator and Christian ministry.
Instead of meeting on Friday, King will no longer be allowed inside North Korea, reports USA Today. The apparent provocation was the mobilization of nuclear-capable bombers during recent military drills with South Korea.
Initially, North Korea was going to allow the US envoy visit in spite of the South Korea-US drills.
However, an unnamed North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman stated on state media Saturday that the US “beclouded the hard-won atmosphere of humanitarian dialogue in a moment” when it allegedly infiltrated the B-52H strategic bombers in the sky over the peninsula.
The spokesman added that the infiltration was “the most blatant nuclear blackmail against us.” The US State Department called the US envoy’s visit to North Korea a “humanitarian mission” to secure Kenneth Bae’s release, notes NBC News.
The American was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. Bae’s family expressed their disappointment over the news. However, they are holding out hope that North Korean and US diplomats will resume their talks soon.
The US State Department also expressed its disappointment in North Korea’s decision. Spokeswoman Marie Harf stated on Friday that the US was “surprised and disappointed” by the North’s choice. It remains worried about Bae’s health. He is suffering from multiple health issues.
North Korea has previously used detained Americans as bargaining chips with the US over its nuclear and missile programs. Talks over disarmament of the reclusive nation have been stalled since 2009.
It is unclear when, or if, North Korea will allow the US envoy into its borders to negotiate Kenneth Bae’s release.