WASHINGTON, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- The United States on Friday expressed disappointment at the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s canceled invitation for a special American envoy, who has focused his upcoming visit on securing the release of an American citizen.
"We are surprised and disappointed by North Korea's decision," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement, noting Washington was informed of the canceled visit of Robert King, an envoy charged with human rights issues related to the DPRK.
King has planned to visit Pyongyang on Friday and Saturday following his tour of China, the Republic of Korea and Japan. He was aimed at mainly seeking freedom for Kenneth Bae, a 45-year-old Korean-American man who was detained in the DPRK in November and sentenced in late April to 15 years of hard labor for "hostile acts" against the country.
Bae has been hospitalized recently as he reportedly suffers a number of health problems.
"We have sought clarification from the DPRK about its decision and have made every effort so that Ambassador King's trip could continue as planned or take place at a later date," Harf said.
"We remain gravely concerned about Mr. Bae's health and we continue to urge the DPRK authorities to grant Mr. Bae special amnesty and immediate release on humanitarian grounds," she added.