Saturday, May 16, 2009

ENVOY SEES AMERICANS IN N KOREA

Journalists Euna Lee (L) and Laura Ling
It is thought that the women were researching North Korean refugees

The Swedish ambassador to North Korea has met two US journalists arrested near its border with China in March.

Ambassador Mats Foyer met each woman on 15 May, the US state department said. They are due stand trial on 4 June.

Mr Foyer, who looks after US interests in North Korea where Washington has no embassy, last saw them six weeks ago.

Euna Lee, a Korean-American, and Laura Ling, a Chinese-American, are charged with illegal entry after allegedly crossing from China and "hostile acts".

The charges are "baseless" and the two should be immediately released, according to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Some reports have suggested that they were arrested while on Chinese soil.

The two, who were working for California-based internet broadcaster Current TV, were doing a story about refugees fleeing the communist North.

The fact that North Korea had set a trial date was "a signal that there can be... a resolution", Mrs Clinton said in Washington.

But she warned that the US was not interested in "chasing after" North Korea or offering it incentives to return to the negotiating table over its nuclear programme.

BBC NEWS REPORT.

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