N. Korea may use detained US journalists as bargaining chips

March 26th, 2009 - 1:08 pm ICT by ANI  

Tokyo, Mar.26 (ANI): The North Korean Government is likely to use the two American journalists it has detained as bargaining chips in its feuds with the outside world, analysts and politicians in South Korea have claimed.

No matter what charges are made against the journalists, North Korea will probably use them — and the timing of their release — as leverage in negotiations with the United States and other countries over aid, nuclear weapons and, most urgently, the planned test launch in early April of a long-range missile, several analysts said.According to the Washington Post, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, reporters working for Al Gore’s San Francisco-based Current TV, were seized at 3 a.m. March 17 after walking from China across the shallow Tumen River into North Korea.The newspaper, citing intelligence sources in the South Korean government, said the two women have been moved to Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, where they were being interrogated as possible spies.

The United States has been assured by North Korea that the journalists will be treated well, State Department spokesman Robert A. Wood said Tuesday.

The North Korean government has made one public statement about the journalists.

“Two Americans were detained on March 17 while illegally intruding into the territory” of North Korea by crossing its border with China, said a report Saturday by the official state news agency. “A competent organ is now investigating the case.”

“They do become bargaining chips,” said Andrei Lankov, a professor of North Korean studies at Kookmin University in Seoul.

“North Korea will send them home, but it will not happen quickly. The North Koreans want to show the world that illegally crossing their border will not be tolerated and they want to squeeze political and financial concessions from the United States,” Lankov said. (ANI)

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