POLITICS

State Dept. Asks North Korea To Release U.S. Detainees 'Out Of Humanitarian Concern'

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 12:  US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to the media during a press conference at the conclus
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 12: US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to the media during a press conference at the conclusion of the AUSMIN talks at Admiralty House on August 12, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. US Secretary of State John Kerry and Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel are meeting with their Australian counterparts Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Australian Defence Minister David Johnston at the annual Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN), which will focus on regional security and enhanced military co-operation. (Photo by Dan Himbrechts - Pool/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, Sept 1 (Reuters) - The U.S. government on Monday requested that the North Korean government release three U.S. citizens currently detained there "out of humanitarian concern" and grant one of them special amnesty to seek medical care.

Three U.S. citizens - Kenneth Bae, Jeffrey Fowle and Matthew Miller - asked the American government for help returning home on Monday in rare interviews with CNN set up by the North Korean government. Bae is serving a 15-year sentence, others are awaiting trial.

"There is no greater priority for us than the welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad ... We continue to work actively to secure these three U.S. Citizens' release," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.

"The Embassy of Sweden in Pyongyang acts as our protecting power for issues involving U.S. citizens in North Korea. We are in regular, close coordination with representatives of the Embassy of Sweden."

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