Top US envoy urges North Korea to release detained Americans
The US special representative for North Korea policy has called on Pyongyang to release three American detainees.
Ambassador Glyn Davies on Tuesday called the move by North Korea a “serious impediment” to improved relations with Washington.
"It remains a significant serious impediment to the betterment of our relations with North Korea," Davies told reporters in Seoul.
"It remains for us a source of real concerns that North Korea not only won't release them, but it won't talk to us about how we might go forward to secure their release."
North Korea has detained three Americans, including Kenneth Bae, a 46-year-old Korean-American Christian missionary, Jeffery Fowle, 56, and Mathew Miller, 24, for over a year.
In 2013, Bae was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for allegedly plotting to overthrow the North Korean government.
North Korea is accused of using the detainees as leverage to get Washington officials on negotiation table.
Davies also said North Korea is using prisoners as political “pawns.”
He added that Washington’s efforts to open conversations with North Korea over the issue has been rejected by the country.
"It really does put the lie to North Korea's insistence (or) contention that they truly seek better relationship with the US. If so, let our people go," he said.
The US official made the statements on his way to the six-party meetings aimed at finding ways to force North Korea speed its “denuclearization.” The six-party forum involves, the US, South and North Korea, China, Japan and Russia.
Davies said the US and China have "firmly" agreed to the importance of denuclearizing North Korea.