March 15, 2010 / 7:51 PM / 10 years ago

U.S. says North Korea allows visit to detained citizen

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - North Korea has allowed Swedish diplomats to visit a U.S. citizen detained nearly two months ago after allegedly entering the country from China, the U.S. State Department said on Monday.

“We can confirm that on March 14 the DPRK (Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea) granted the Swedish embassy, our protecting power, consular access to a detained U.S. citizen,” said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley.

Crowley declined to provide any further information about the U.S. citizen. Sweden represents U.S. interests in Pyongyang in the absence of formal diplomatic relations.

The United States said in January that North Korea had informed it that it was holding the American, but since then has provided no information about the case.

North Korea’s official news agency said the American was detained after crossing into its territory from China, accusing him of “trespassing” and saying he was under interrogation.

South Korean news reports have said the border-crosser was a 28-year-old man who said he entered the socialist North because no longer wanted to live in the capitalist world.

North Korea in February released another detained American, clearing an obstacle between Pyongyang and Washington as pressure mounts for North Korea end its year-long boycott of talks aimed at ending its nuclear program.

Robert Park, identified as a U.S. missionary, was detained after he walked over the frozen Tumen river from China into North Korea on December 25 on what he said was a mission to raise awareness about Pyongyang’s human rights abuses.

Reporting by Andrew Quinn; Editing by Eric Walsh

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