North Korea said on Tuesday that two female US journalists whom it jailed last week for 12 years had admitted a politically motivated smear campaign against the communist state. Official media, giving the first details of the alleged crimes, said they crossed the border illegally "for the purpose of making animation files to be used for an anti-DPRK (North Korea) smear campaign over its human rights issue".
Professor Kim Yong-Hyun of Seoul's Dongguk University said the North was sending a message that it was time for the US to start negotiations and seek a political solution.The report came just hours before a US-South Korean summit in Washington, he noted. "North Korea appears to be trying to draw US public attention to this issue.
"By dropping espionage charges, which could complicate the settlement of this issue, North Korea paved the way for a negotiated solution," Kim told AFP.
Since Euna Lee and Laura Ling work for California-based Current TV, which was co-founded by former vice-president Al Gore, he has been suggested as a possible intermediary.