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Last updated at 14:37 BST, Monday, 08 June 2009

North Korea jails US journalists

Summary

8 June 2009

The US State department says it is deeply concerned about the fate of two American journalists who have been found guilty in North Korea of 'hostile acts' against the country. They were arrested in March by North Korean border guards.

Reporter:
Chris Hogg

Jailed woman

Laura Ling

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Report

American diplomats say they are using all possible channels to release the two journalists, but the reality is it's not going to be easy. The United States and North Korea don't have diplomatic relations. Messages are passed using officials from third countries. The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il has wanted direct talks with the United States for years, and may use the two Americans, Euna Lee and Laura Ling as 'bargaining chips' to try to win concessions from Washington.

Guards from the North arrested the pair while they were working near the country's border with China on March 17th. They have now been convicted of hostile acts against the country, and entering the North illegally. They face the prospect of being sent to one of the North's prison camps. The US State Department has described conditions in these institutions as 'harsh' and 'life-threatening'.

Before the verdicts came in, the US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton had described the charges against the two women as 'baseless' and said they should be allowed to return home. She is thought to be exploring the possibility of sending an envoy to try to secure their release. There's been speculation in recent days that the former US vice president Al Gore might travel to Pyongyang. He's the co-founder of the media company the two women work for.

Chris Hogg, BBC News, Seoul

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Vocabulary

all possible channels
every method they can think of to communicate
diplomatic relations
an arrangement between two countries where each has a representative in the other country
direct talks
an opportunity for 1-2-1 discussion without another person or party being there
bargaining chips
something which someone else wants that you are willing to lose in order to reach an agreement
win concessions
gain special rights or favours
convicted of hostile acts
found guilty of actions that might damage a country, its people or its buildings
harsh
unnecessarily severe
life-threatening
could cause death
baseless
not based on facts
an envoy
someone who is sent as a representative from one government to another

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