Mon, Jan 25, 2016 - Page 5 News List

Former US envoy not expecting role in talks on student

AP, SEOUL

A retired US ambassador who used his connections to help negotiate the release of an American held by North Korea in 2014 said he does not expect to be involved in any talks with the country over a detained US student.

Former Ohio representative and US ambassador to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization Tony Hall played a role in the release of Jeffrey Fowle, who was held by North Korea for nearly six months.

Hall told the Dayton Daily News that he does not anticipate being called on this time to lobby the North Korean government to release University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier.

Warmbier and Fowle are from southwest Ohio. Warmbier is from the Cincinnati area, and Fowle lives north in Miamisburg.

Hall said previously he got involved at the request of Fowle’s family, Fowle’s attorney and the US Department of State, which led the push for Fowle’s release.

In remarks published late on Friday in the newspaper, Hall said the North Koreans do not give an inch.

“They are very, very tough people, and you’ve really got to understand them and their culture and the fact that they are a sovereign nation, and that’s important to understand,” he said.

Hall said the US has little leverage with North Korea.

North Korea on Friday said that it had arrested Warmbier for committing a “hostile act” orchestrated by the US.

Ohio Governor John Kasich, a Republican presidential hopeful, has said North Korea should provide evidence against Warmbier or let him go.

A China-based travel agency on Saturday said that Warmbier was being held over an unspecified incident at his hotel before he was scheduled to board a flight for Beijing.

Young Pioneer Tours chief executive Gareth Johnson, on Saturday confirmed via e-mail Saturday that Warmbier had been staying at Pyongyang’s Yanggakdo International Hotel and was not with other tourists when the incident occurred.

A company statement said Warmbier was detained at the Pyongyang airport on Jan. 2, but it did not explain what happened at the hotel.

The company said an airport official told one of its guides after Warmbier was detained that he had been taken to a hospital.

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