U.S. envoy on N. Korea to visit China, S. Korea, Japan

A U.S. envoy on North Korean human rights issues will visit China, South Korea and Japan later this month for talks with government officials and defectors from North Korea, the U.S. State Department said Tuesday.

Robert King will arrive in China on Monday for a three-day visit and meet with officials of the Chinese government, the Office of U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and the World Food Program.

The envoy will stay in South Korea from Aug. 22 to 27 for meetings with officials of its government and members of civil society groups as well as people who settled in the country after defecting from North Korea, according to the department.

King's planned trip comes as the U.S. government is urging North Korea to release American citizen Kenneth Bae, whose health condition has been reportedly deteriorating since being sentenced in April to 15 years in jail for "hostile acts" against the country.

On Aug. 28, King will visit Japan and is expected to hold talks with Foreign Ministry officials, including Junichi Ihara, head of the ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, on issues such as North Korea's abductions of Japanese nationals.