WASHINGTON - The State Department says it is "deeply disappointed" in North Korea's decision to withdraw for a second time an invitation to a U.S. envoy to discuss the release of a jailed American businessman.
Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Sunday called for Kenneth Bae's immediate release and said the US would continue to work actively toward that end.
The decision apparently came in protest of upcoming regularly scheduled joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea, which Psaki said are not linked to Bae's case.
"We remind the DPRK that the U.S.-ROK military exercises are transparent, regularly-scheduled, and defense-oriented," said Psaki. "These exercises are in no way linked to Mr. Bae's case. We again call on the DPRK to grant Bae special amnesty and immediate release as a humanitarian gesture so he may reunite with his family and seek medical care. We will continue to work actively to secure Mr. Bae’s release. Per our long-standing offer, we remain prepared to send Ambassador King to North Korea in support of Mr. Bae’s release."
The U.S. State Department also confirmed that Reverend Jesse Jackson has offered to travel to Pyongyang on a humanitariam mission focused on Bae's release.
Bae was quoted Friday in a pro-Pyongyang newspaper in Japan as saying he had been notified that the U.S. envoy on North Korean human rights issues would come to meet him as early as Monday and no later than the end of the month.
Bae's family said they were not prepared to comment on Sunday's developments.