US welcomes North Korea's release of American

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Associated Press

Posted on December 6, 2013 at 10:05 PM

Updated Saturday, Dec 7 at 1:34 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department says it is welcoming North Korea's decision to release an elderly American tourist.

North Korea's state news agency said 85-year-old Merrill Newman was allowed to leave the country after being held for more than month. North Korea says Newman, a Korean War veteran, apologized for alleged crimes during the war.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf called it a positive decision but urged North Korea to also release another American, Kenneth Bae, who's been held there for over a year. Bae is a Korean-American missionary and tour operator. He's being held for alleged subversion.

Harf thanked the government of Sweden, which represents U.S. interests in North Korea because the U.S. does not have an embassy there.

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