Kerry meets family of Kenneth Bae, urges N. Korea to free him

By Lee Chi-dong

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met Tuesday with the family of a Korean-American man jailed in North Korea, apparently in a show of the U.S. government's commitment to efforts to win his release.

"There is no greater priority for us than the welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad," Jen Psaki, the State Department's spokeswoman, said in an emailed statement issued after Kerry's meeting with the mother of Kenneth Bae. Bae's younger sister also attended the meeting at the department.

The department fully supports the efforts of the Bae family to bring him home, added Psaki.

"We continue to urge the DPRK (North Korea) to pardon Bae for his actions and grant him amnesty and immediate release," she added.

Psaki pointed out Bae has apologized publicly for what he did in the communist nation.

Bae, a 45-year-old Christian missionary, was arrested in North Korea 15 months ago while leading a group of tourists. The North later announced that he was sentenced to 15 years of compulsory labor for committing a crime against the state.

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