Published : 2013-10-12 11:12
Updated : 2013-10-12 11:23
The U.S. government said Friday it played a limited role in the ongoing trip to North Korea by the mother of a jailed American man.
In North Korea, Bae Myung-hee reportedly met her son, Kenneth Bae, who has been held in the communist nation for nearly a year, on Friday (local time). She arrived there a day earlier.
The State Department said it was aware of her visit.
"The U.S. government did not arrange Mrs. Bae's private trip. We helped her coordinate her trip with the Embassy of Sweden in Pyongyang, which is our protecting power there," the department's deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said at a press.
The Embassy of Sweden serves as protecting power for American citizens in North Korea as Washington has no diplomatic ties with Pyongyang.
She stressed that the U.S. remains "gravely concerned about his health and continues to urge the DPRK (North Korea) authorities to grant him special amnesty and immediate release on humanitarian grounds."
Bae, known as a Christian missionary, was arrested in North Korea in November after entering the nation with a group of tourists. The North later announced that its highest court sentenced him to 15 years of compulsory labor for committing unspecified crime against the state.
In late August, Amb. Robert King, special envoy for North Korean human rights issues at the State Department, had planned to visit Pyongyang to negotiate his release. But North Korea abruptly canceled an invitation for King.