U.S. bans travel to North Korea from
September 1, says Americans should leave
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[August 03, 2017]
By Yeganeh Torbati
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A ban on travel by
U.S. passport holders to North Korea will take effect on Sept. 1 and
Americans in the country should leave before that date, the U.S. State
Department said on Wednesday.
Journalists and humanitarian workers may apply for exceptions to the
ban, the department said in a public notice.
The U.S. government last month said it would bar Americans from
traveling to North Korea due to the risk of "long-term detention" there.
The ban comes at a time of heightened tensions between the United States
and North Korea, which has been working to develop a nuclear-tipped
missile capable of hitting the United States.
North Korea will become the only country to which Americans are banned
American student Otto Warmbier, sentenced last year to 15 years' hard
labor in North Korea, returned to the United States in a coma on June 13
after being released on humanitarian grounds, and died June 19. The
circumstances surrounding his death are not clear, including why he fell
into a coma.
North Korea has said through its state media that Warmbier's death was
"a mystery" and dismissed accusations that he had died as a result of
torture and beating in captivity.
The State Department issued a notice in the Federal Register on
Wednesday declaring U.S. passports invalid for travel to, in or through
North Korea. The restriction takes effect in 30 days, and applies for
one year unless extended or revoked by the secretary of state.
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The North Korea flag flutters next to concertina wire at the North
Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia March 9, 2017.
"Persons currently in North Korea on a U.S. passport should depart
North Korea before the travel restriction enters into effect on
Friday, September 1, 2017," the department said in a statement.
Professional reporters or journalists, representatives of the
International Committee of the Red Cross or the American Red Cross
traveling on official missions, those traveling to North Korea for
"compelling humanitarian considerations" and those whose requests
are "in the national interest" may ask for a special validation of
their passports in order to travel to the country, the State
North Korea is currently holding two Korean-American academics and a
missionary, a Canadian pastor and three South Korean nationals who
were doing missionary work. Japan says North Korea has also detained
at least several dozen of its nationals.
(Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati, David Brunnstrom and David Alexander;
Editing by Jonathan Oatis and James Dalgleish)
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