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U.S. extends ban on travel to North Korea for another year

By
Danielle Haynes
The ban on U.S. citizens traveling to North Korea was first put in place a year ago after the death of American Otto Warmbier. Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI
The ban on U.S. citizens traveling to North Korea was first put in place a year ago after the death of American Otto Warmbier. Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 30 (UPI) -- The United States extended its ban on Americans traveling to North Korea for another year Thursday, citing danger to citizens.

The State Department put the ban into effect through Aug. 31, 2019.

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"The safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas is one of our highest priorities," a State Department official said in a statement emailed to UPI. "The travel warning for North Korea remains in place -- the Department of State strongly warns U.S. citizens not to travel to North Korea."

The department first announced the ban on U.S. citizens traveling to North Korea in July 2017 after the death of American Otto Warmbier, who visited the country in 2016. He was ultimately convicted of stealing a propaganda poster, spent 18 months in prison and returned home in June in a coma. He died days later.

The ban provides some exceptions for people traveling to North Korea "for extremely limited purposes," namely in national interest. Representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross or the American Red Cross are allowed to travel there for an official mission, and journalists may also be given exceptions for reporting on the country.

Those involved in negotiations to denuclearize North Korea may also travel there.

The ban supersedes prior State Department warnings that discouraged -- but did not expressly forbid -- travel to North Korea.

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