The United States remains working with Sweden, which represents American interests in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), in a bid to win the release of two U.S. journalists being held by Pyongyang, the State Department said Tuesday.
"The concern of the U.S. government is always the safety of its citizens. That is one of our highest priorities. ... The Swedes are the channel through which we are working. They are our diplomatic protecting power," State Department deputy spokesman Gordon Duguid told reporters.
"We will continue to ask them to seek consular access should our two citizens remain in custody."
A Swedish diplomat, acting on behalf of the United States, visited over the weekend two American women journalists being held in the DPRK, Duguid said Monday. But no whereabouts of the American detainees and details about their conditions are available.
The DPRK said it detained two Americans on March 17 as they were "illegally intruding into the territory of the DPRK by crossing the DPRK-China border."
Pyongyang "has assured us that the detainees will be well treated," State Department deputy spokesman Robert Wood said last week.
(Xinhua News Agency April 1, 2009)