Swedish Envoy: US Detainees in North Korea 'High on Agenda'
With the denial of consular access to two U.S. citizens detained in North Korea continuing for months, the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang, which acts on behalf of the United States, said it is currently making all-out efforts to accelerate their safe return home.
Torkel Stiernlöf, Swedish ambassador to Pyongyang, told VOA this week the communist state’s detention of American citizens is one of the embassy’s primary concerns.
Over the past year, North Korea locked up two American citizens for crimes against the state. One of the detainees is Kim Dong Chul, a South Korean-born U.S. citizen, was sentenced to 10 years of hard labor in April on charges of espionage and stealing state secrets. Kim has reportedly not been allowed consular access since his arrest.
Kim’s sentence came on the heels of a 15-year sentence given to Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia student suspected of stealing a propaganda poster from a North Korean hotel.
The U.S. State Department is urging U.S. citizens to avoid travel to the North. At least 14 U.S. citizens have been detained in the country in the past 10 years, according to the State Department.
Clinton, Trump Hold Dueling Speeches in North Carolina
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump held simultaneous dueling campaign rallies Thursday night in North Carolina -- a state either one must win if they want to win the White House next Tuesday.
Her former rival for the Democratic nomination, Senator Bernie Sanders, introduced Clinton in Raleigh, while Republican Trump was a short distance away, speaking to a largely pro-military crowd in Selma.
Both traded the usual insults about the other's fitness for office while appealing to their followers that their vote matters.
Earlier in Greenville, North Carolina, Clinton warned that Trump "always puts himself first and doesn't care who gets hurt along the way." She said Trump simply cannot help himself when he insults women and minorities, adding that he is out of his depth and very dangerous.
Clinton's top booster, President Barack Obama, campaigned for her in another must win state -- Florida. At a rally in Jacksonville, Obama noted that the polls are close, and said the outcome cannot be taken for granted. "You have this precious chance to shape history. Don't let it slip away."
Obama also tore into Senate Republicans who have refused to consider his Supreme Court nominee, saying they want to wait until there is a new president first. But many of those senators are now vowing that they will block anyone Clinton nominates.
Trump also was in Jacksonville Thursday, predicting that if Clinton wins, she would be impeached over her emails and questions about the Clinton Foundation charity when she was secretary of state.
He did not let the crowd forget that her husband, former President Bill Clinton, was impeached in 1998 for lying about an affair with a White House intern.
Meanwhile, Clinton's vice presidential running mate Tim Kaine made history in Arizona Thursday, becoming the first major party candidate to make a campaign speech entirely in Spanish. Arizona is a traditionally Republican state. But its growing Hispanic population opposes Trump's plans to restrict immigration and build a wall along the Mexican border, and they are being encouraged not to stay home on election day.
Two new major national polls Thursday showed Clinton edging ahead of Trump among likely voters, with The New York Times/CBS News poll giving her a 45-to-42 percent lead and The Washington Post-ABC News poll showing her with a 47-45 advantage.