US extends ban on passports for N Korea travel

Washington: The United States on Monday extended a ban on the use of US passports for travel to North Korea for another year, the State Department said in a statement.

The ban, which will go into effect on September 1, renders US passports invalid for travel to North Korea and is reportedly motivated by Washington’s concerns about “the serious risk of arrest and long-term detention in North Korea”, Yonhap news agency reported after citing the statement.

The travel ban was imposed in September 2017 in the wake of the death of Otto Warmbier, an American college student who was detained in the North and died shortly after his return to the US in a coma. Exceptions can be granted to journalists and for humanitarian reasons for a single trip.

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The measure was renewed once in 2018. It will now remain in place until August 31, 2020.

American citizens interested in going to North Korea for humanitarian- or journalism-related purposes will be able to apply for exceptions through the State Department, the statement read.

The move follows a separate action by Washington this month, under which foreign nationals with a record of traveling to North Korea beginning in March 2011 must obtain a visa in order to enter the United States.

The travel ban extension comes amid a stall in nuclear negotiations between the US and North Korea.

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