Travis King: US say North Korea will ‘want a price’ to return AWOL soldier

11 months ago 19

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US officials are concerned about the "price" North Korea will demand in order to secure the safe return of a US Army private who fled across the South Korean border into the nation last week.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul made the comments on Sunday regarding Travis King, who reportedly fled into North Korea after posing as a tourist.

"That was the wrong place to go. But we see this with Russia, China, Iran - when they take an American, particularly a soldier, captive, they exact a price for that," Mr McCaul said during an interview with ABC "This Week." "And that's what I worry about."

He said he did not believe Mr King was defecting, but was "more running from his problems".

Mr King, 23, was reportedly on his way back to the US last week, but skipped his flight back to join a tour group visiting the border between North and South Korea. During the tour he broke from the group and ran across the border.

US officials said he was scheduled to fly to Texas in order to face "pending administrative separation actions for foreign conviction" after spending 47 days locked up in South Korea for allegations of assault and damaging public property.

North Korea reportedly has not responded to requests from the Biden administration inquiring about the soldier's status.

Mr King's family has asked for "privacy" as they work to secure his return.

The soldier reportedly said at some point last year he had no intentions of returning the the US, according to ABC News.

"I'm sure that he's not being treated very well," Mr McCaul said on Sunday. "I think it was a serious mistake on his part, and I hope we can get him back."

US Army soldier Travis King

(VIA REUTERS)

While North Korean officials have reportedly not responded to Mr Biden directly, the nation is reportedly responding to the United Nations Command.

The deputy commander of the US-led group overseeing the Korean War truce said they had been in contact with Pyongyang, according to Reuters.

Lieutenant General Andrew Harrison, a British Army officer acting as deputy commander of the command, said on Monday that the command's primary concern was Mr King's welfare.

"The conversation has commenced with the KPA through the mechanisms of the Armistice agreement," Mr Harrison said. "I can't say anything that could prejudice that process."

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