Biden visits DMZ as NKorea releases US tourist

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 7, 2013 at 3:21 am •  Published: December 7, 2013
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Still, it was difficult to imagine the timing was coincidental, coming just as the vice president was headed to the DMZ for a visit that was likely to cast attention on Newman's detention and on global concerns about North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

"The release is vintage North Korea," said Ralph Cossa, president of the Pacific Forum CSIS think tank in Hawaii. "They always try to capture the attention away from something that might make the Republic of Korea look good and get the spotlight on them instead."

Minutes after word of Newman's release broke, Biden reached him by phone in a Beijing airport, where Newman had just arrived on a flight from Pyongyang. Assuring Newman that all of America welcomes his return, Biden offered the elderly American a ride home on Air Force Two. But Newman declined, saying he preferred a commercial flight that would take him straight home to California within a few hours.

"I am very glad to be on my way home," a smiling Newman told reporters at the airport.

The conciliatory move from Pyongyang came at the end of an Asia tour in which deep concerns about North Korea and its nuclear weapons program were never far from the forefront.

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Reach Josh Lederman on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP

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