Ex-Envoy: North Korea Video Hints at Release Talks for Captive Pastor

Friday, 24 Jan 2014 09:34 PM

By Cynthia Fagen

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Washington’s former top negotiator with North Korea says Pyongyang's video this week showing captive American Kenneth Bae may be a signal to the State Department that it is willing to start back-channel talks for the pastor's release,  The Washington Times reported Friday.

Joseph DeTrani, who was Washington's envoy for multilateral talks with Pyongyang, says the State Dept. is likely already working behind-the-scenes for Bae's release through North Korea's representatives at the UN.

“Having Kenneth Bae come out the way he did indicates that the North Koreans are showing they’re more amenable to seeing his eventual release,” said DeTrani, who managed the North Korean mission at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence from 2006 to 2010.

Bae's press conference with foreign media shows that the North Koreans were inviting an American effort for his release, “and that may be to include eventually having an envoy go there," he said.

The State Dept. refused to comment, the Times said, but revealed that Special Representative for North Korea Policy, Glyn Davies, will visit China, Japan and South Korea next week for "meetings with senior officials to discuss North Korea policy."

The Korean-American, 45, from Lynwood, Wash., a devout Christian, was arrested in November 2012 while operating a China-based tourism company that went to North Korea.

The video footage of the press conference shows Bae looking stressed. He admitted to committing a serious crime and said he wanted “to be pardoned by the North as soon as possible and return to my beloved family.”

Last May, former NBA star Dennis Rodman tweeted to his pal, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un "to do me a solid and cut Kenneth Bae loose." He is serving a 15-year sentence for unspecified "hostile acts."

Rodman was invited to Pyongyang by Kim, a fan, to watch a basketball game.

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