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US to ban citizens from visiting North Korea

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Beijing: The US will soon ban its citizens from visiting North Korea, following the death of American student Otto Warmbier, officials said.

The ban will likely be announced on July 27 and will come into force thirty days later, Nicholas Banner, co-founder of Beijing-based Koryo Tours said on Friday on the basis of information they received from the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang, which collaborates with the US regarding consular matters in North Korea.

Confirming the news, Xi’an based Young Pioneer Tours said in a statement on its website that following the ban, the US government will revoke the passports of Americans, who visit North Korea, Efe news reported.

During his visit, Warmbier was arrested and sentenced to 15 years of hard labour for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster from his hotel.

The 22-year-old American was freed by Pyongyang in June in a state of coma and died six days later.

Apart from Warmbier, three other Americans were arrested between 2013 and 2014 and repatriated after several months in captivity.

In 2008, a South Korean tourist was shot dead by a North Korean soldier after allegedly entering a restricted military zone.

Many travel agencies were expecting the ban, which primarily seeks to prevent the arrest of more Americans by the North Korean regime as bargaining tools.

However, the measure might not be as much of a deterrant since North Korea issues visas separately instead of stamping them on passports.

IANS

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