03:53 GMT23 June 2021
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    The North Korean Foreign Ministry said Tuesday in a statement that it is inappropriate time to hold talks on the fate of US citizens imprisoned in the Asian country, local media reported.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) According to the official Korean Central News Agency, as cited by Yonhap News Agency, Pyongyang's foreign office believes that the present state of North Korea-US relations runs counter to possible negotiations on releasing prisoners.

    This statement was issued amid foreign media reports saying that US special representative for North Korea policy was allegedly engaged in back-channel diplomacy with Pyongyang envoys in New York, discussing the ways to release US citizens imprisoned in North Korea.

    On August 10, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed the release of Canadian pastor Hyeon Soo Lim, who was serving a life sentence in a North Korean prison for what Pyongyang called anti-state activities. In June, North Korea returned US student Otto Warmbier to the United States in a coma, after he spent 17 months in detention. He died several days later.

    Tensions between the United States and North Korea escalated last week, after Pyongyang vowed to use any means possible to retaliate against the United States after the UNSC approved the new US-drafted sanctions. US President Donald Trump, in turn, warned that if North Korea continued making threats or possible actions that they would be met with "fire and fury" from the United States. Following the statement, Pyongyang said it considered an attack near the Pacific island of Guam, where several US military bases are located.

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    Tags:
    negotiations, relations, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK), US
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