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U.S. to review travel ban on North Korea

By
Wooyoung Lee
Stephen Biegun, the top U.S. diplomat on North Korea, answers reporters' questions upon arriving at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on Wednesday. Photo by Yonhap
Stephen Biegun, the top U.S. diplomat on North Korea, answers reporters' questions upon arriving at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on Wednesday. Photo by Yonhap

SEOUL, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- A U.S. envoy on North Korea said the U.S. government is considering allowing U.S. citizens to travel to North Korea for humanitarian purposes.

U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun said he was directed by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to review the U.S. policy on humanitarian assistance by private and religious groups, according to South Korean media reports.

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Biegun made the comment upon his arrival in Seoul for a four-day visit for working group meetings with South Korean officials to discuss North Korean nuclear issues.

"The United States and the United Nations will continue to closely review requests for exemptions of licenses for the delivery of the assistance to the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea). We'll still prioritize the safety and security of Americans," he was quoted as saying in the CNN report.

The U.S. State Department announced a ban on trips by U.S. citizens to North Korea after the death of U.S. student Otto Warmbier in September 2017.

The 22-year-old student was arrested for stealing a propaganda sign and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in prison. He suffered a neurological injury for an unknown cause and was repatriated to the U.S. brain-damaged. He died six days later.

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