US sets Septem­ber 1 date for start of N Korea travel ban

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

The United States yes­ter­day of­fi­cially set a Septem­ber 1 start date for a ban pro­hibit­ing its cit­i­zens from trav­el­ing to North Korea. “The Depart­ment of State has de­ter­mined that the se­ri­ous risk to United States na­tion­als of ar­rest and long-term de­ten­tion rep­re­sents im­mi­nent dan­ger to the phys­i­cal safety of United States na­tion­als trav­el­ing to and within the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea (DPRK),” read the re­stric­tion as it ap­peared Wed­nes­day in the US gov­ern­ment’s Fed­eral Reg­is­ter.

“All United States pass­ports are de­clared in­valid for travel to, in, or through the DPRK un­less spe­cially val­i­dated for such travel,” it added. An ex­emp­tion was noted for ap­proved hu­man­i­tar­ian travel and for jour­nal­ists in some cir­cum­stances. The ban is to re­main in ef­fect for one year, un­less it is re­voked sooner by US Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son. The travel ban was first an­nounced last month in the wake of the death of Amer­i­can stu­dent Otto Warm­bier who fell into a coma af­ter be­ing im­pris­oned by Py­ongyang dur­ing a tourist visit.

Warm­bier, 22, a stu­dent at the Univer­sity of Vir­ginia, died in June af­ter be­ing held for more than a year on charges of steal­ing a pro­pa­ganda poster from a North Korean ho­tel-and sent home in a mys­te­ri­ous coma that proved fa­tal. Af­ter his death, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said he was de­ter­mined to “pre­vent such tragedies from be­falling in­no­cent peo­ple at the hands of regimes that do not re­spect the rule of law or ba­sic hu­man de­cency.”

Warm­bier’s death added to al­ready high ten­sions in the re­gion over North Korea’s weapons am­bi­tions, cul­mi­nat­ing in two suc­cess­ful test launches by Py­ongyang in re­cent weeks of an in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile that ex­perts say could reach US ter­ri­tory.—AFP

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