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State Department Statement on Release of American in North Korea

Statement by Philip J. Crowley, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs

Release of Aijalon Mahli Gomes

We welcome the release of Aijalon Mahli Gomes and are relieved that he will soon be safely reunited with his family. We appreciate former President Carter's humanitarian effort and welcome North Korea's decision to grant Mr. Gomes special amnesty and allow him to return to the United States. We also want to express our gratitude to the Swedish Government for their tireless consular services and efforts on the U.S. Government's behalf in their role as our Protecting Power in North Korea.

President Carter's trip was a private, humanitarian, and unofficial mission solely for the purpose of bringing Mr. Gomes home and reuniting him with his family. The former President traveled at the invitation of the DPRK Government. The U.S. Government did not propose or arrange the trip. Based on our assessment that Mr. Gomes' health was at serious risk if he did not receive immediate care in the United States, the U.S. Government concurred with former President Carter's decision to accept the North Korean proposal.

The U.S. and North Korea do not have diplomatic relations and as the case of Mr. Gomes illustrates, travel to North Korea is not routine or risk-free. We are issuing a Travel Warning for American citizens warning U.S. citizens against travel to North Korea.

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