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Aug 13, 2013 8:36 PM by Associated Press

U.S. willing to engage North Korea to release an American

WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. is signaling a willingness to engage North Korea to secure the release of an American sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in the authoritarian country.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf would not say whether the U.S. might send a high-level official to Pyongyang (pyuhng-yahng) to seek freedom for 45-year-old Kenneth Bae (beh).

But she told reporters Tuesday the U.S. is "willing to consider a number of different options to secure his release." She did not elaborate on what those options might be.

Bae is a tour operator and Christian missionary accused of "hostile acts" against North Korea. He has been detained nine months and was recently hospitalized.

Harf said the onus remains on the North Korean government to free Bae.

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