US envoy to travel to North Korea for detained American

WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department says a U.S. envoy will travel to North Korea this week to seek the release of an American sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in the authoritarian country.

The visit by Bob King, special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, will be the first public visit by a senior administration official to North Korea in two years.

Spokeswoman Marie Harf said Tuesday King will request a pardon and amnesty for 45-year-old Kenneth Bae on humanitarian grounds.

Bae, a tour operator and Christian missionary, was arrested in November and accused of subversion. He was recently hospitalized.

King will fly Friday to Pyongyang from Tokyo and fly out Saturday.

While it's a humanitarian mission, it could help improve relations severely strained by Pyongyang's pursuit of nuclear weapons.