U.S. ready to send envoy to North Korea to seek detained man's release, if invited
In this undated photo provided by the family of Kenneth Bae, Kenneth Bae, poses for a photo in China, where he used to live. Bae, a 45-year-old tour operator and Christian missionary was arrested last November while leading a group of tourists in the northeastern region of Rason in North Korea and has been detained for the past 11 months. Bae's family said on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, that Bae's mother, Myunghee Bae, is being allowed to visit him. (AP / Courtesy Terri Chung)
Published Tuesday, January 7, 2014 2:33PM EST
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. says it would send a government envoy to North Korea to seek the release of a detained American if Pyongyang extends an invitation.
The comments Tuesday from State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki come as former NBA star Dennis Rodman visits North Korea at the head of an unofficial basketball diplomacy mission.
Rodman is facing flak at home for not using his influence with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to secure the release of Kenneth Bae, an American missionary held on charges of "anti-state" crimes.
Psaki declined to say whether Rodman's visit was undermining Washington's efforts to seek Bae's release.
But she said the U.S. is prepared to send an envoy on North Korean human rights issues, Robert King, if North Korea reinstates an invitation withdrawn in August.