A US congressman has sent White House security adviser John Bolton a letter asking Washington to demand that Pyongyang return the US intelligence ship Pueblo to the US Navy, the Voice of America reported Tuesday.
According to VOA's Korean service, John Faso, a Republican congressman from New York, said in the letter dated Saturday that the United States should use the repatriation of the ship as a bargaining chip in its negotiations with North Korea.
North Korea attacked and seized the 906-ton USS Pueblo as the ship was collecting intelligence in international waters on Jan. 23, 1968.
File photo showing North Korean soldiers looking at the US spy ship Pueblo, which was seized on Jan. 23, 1968, and is displayed at the Daedong river in Pyongyang. (Yonhap)
During the incident, one American sailor was killed in the assault and 82 others were captured and held prisoner for 11 months before they were freed.
North Korea has yet to return the ship, which it displays along the Potong River in Pyongyang for anti-American propaganda purposes.
In the letter, Faso said the Pueblo is used as a museum and as war booty in Pyongyang even though it officially remains a commissioned vessel of the US Navy.
In May, the US Congress proposed a resolution calling for the return of the spy ship to the US.
Calls have mounted for the North to send back the ship to the US Navy in the United States. But the North stills takes pride in the capture of the ship and calls it a victory against the US.
In a commentary to mark the Navy Day that fell on Tuesday, the Rodong Sinmun of the ruling Workers' Party said, "The seizure of the Pueblo ship that intruded on our waters was a special incident to show off our Navy's invincible spirit." (Yonhap)