Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

North Korea is said to detain another U.S. citizen

- By Choe Sang-Hun

The New York Times

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea has detained a United States citizen, the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang and a university chancellor said Sunday, raising the number of Americans thought to be held by the secretive nation to three.

The arrest, if confirmed, would further complicate Washington’s relations with the country at a particular­ly tense moment.

The man, Tony Kim, who also goes by his Korean name, Kim Sang-duk, was detained on Saturday, Park Chan-mo, the chancellor of Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, told The Associated Press.

Mr. Park said Mr. Kim had taught accounting at the university for about a month, and had taught at Yanbian University of Science and Technology in China before coming to Pyongyang. He said Mr. Kim had been detained by officials at Sunan Internatio­nal Airport in Pyongyang as he was trying to leave North Korea.

South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, citing unnamed sources, said earlier that a Korean-American man identified by only his last name, Kim, had been arrested at the airport.

It said the man, who is in his late 50s and is a former professor at Yanbian University, has been involved in aid and relief programs to North Korea.

The Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang, the capital, said it was aware that the North had recently detained a Korean-American citizen, the AP reported. The U.S. does not have formal diplomatic ties with North Korea, and the embassy looks after consular affairs in the North on behalf of Washington.

The South Korean government, including its Unificatio­n Ministry and National Intelligen­ce Service, said it could not confirm the report.

North Korea has a history of detaining foreigners. The North has been accused of holding Americans on what many see as dubious chargesto use them as diplomatic leverage. At least two other Americans are known to be held in the country.

Relations with Washington have reached a pitch recently, as North Korea has tested missiles and the U.S. has threatened to send warships to the region.

North Korea said Sunday it was ready to sink a U.S. aircraft carrier to demonstrat­e its military might, as two Japanese Navy ships joined a U.S. carrier group for exercises in the western Pacific, Reuters reported.

“Our revolution­ary forces are combat-ready to sink a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with a single strike,” Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, said in a commentary.

Meanwhile, fresh off an immense North Korean parade that revealed an arsenal of interconti­nental ballistic missiles, rival South Korea and its allies are bracing for the possibilit­y that Pyongyang’s followup act will be bigger — perhaps during the founding anniversar­y of North Korea’s military on Tuesday.

Saudi envoy to U.S.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman issued a decree Saturday naming one of his sons, an air force pilot who has taken part in coalition strikes against the Islamic State group, as the kingdom’s new ambassador to the U.S.

The appointmen­t of Prince Khaled bin Salman to Washington signals the kingdom’s eagerness to strengthen bilateral ties under President Donald Trump. As the king’s son, the prince has a direct line to the Saudi monarch.

Saudi-U.S. relations had cooled under the Obama administra­tion after Washington pursued a nuclear accord with Shiite-ruled Iran that the Sunni-ruled kingdom strongly opposed.

Relations with the Riyadh have improved since Mr. Trump took office.

The decree on Prince Khaled was just one among several that represent a new step in the Saudi leadership’s efforts to adjust the kingdom’s finances, which have been undermined by low oil prices. In another step, King Salman rescinded salary cuts for ministers and restored financial perks for public sector workers.

Somalia woes rise

Commercial ships must once again shore up their defenses against forced boardings at sea, United States Defense Department officials said on Sunday, warning that Somali pirates are returning to waters off East Africa after five years of calm. However, the spike in attacks on commercial shipping does not yet constitute a trend, they said.

The return of pirate attacks off Somalia’s coast comes as the country’s fledgling government, supported by the United Nations, is trying to battle the Islamic extremist organizati­on al-Shabab.

Most of the fighting against the extremist group has been done by a regional force backed by the African Union, but some of the countries that have sent troops say they are planning to depart starting in 2018. That has left the United States military scrambling to try to prepare Somalia’s armed forces to take over the fight.

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