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Canadian Officials Meet Detained Pastor in North Korea

A delegation led by Dr. Sarah Taylor, Director General, North Asia and Oceania, Global Affairs Canada (center)

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PYONGYANG – Canadian officials visited North Korea and met with Canadian detainee Pastor Hyeon Soo Lim, who was sentenced to life in prison last year over what Pyongyang described as anti-state activities, the North’s state media said Thursday.

A Canadian government delegation led by Dr.Sarah Taylor, Director General for North Asia and Oceania for Global Affairs Canada, arrived in North Korea on Tuesday for a three-day visit to discuss Lim’s case and other issues, Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency said.

The agency said the Canadian officials met Lim, but provided no further details.

South Korea-born Canadian pastor Hyeon Soo Lim stands during his trial at a North Korean court in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News

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Lim, a Christian pastor, was convicted by Pyongyang’s Supreme Court for trying to use religion to destroy the North Korean system and helping U.S. and South Korean authorities lure and abduct North Korean citizens.

North Korea is often accused of using foreign detainees as a way to win concessions from other countries. The country is locked in a standoff with the international community over its expanding nuclear weapons and missiles program.

North Korea is also holding at least two Americans for alleged espionage, subversion and other charges. Korean-American Kim Tong Chol is serving a 10-year prison term with hard labor, while University of Virginia undergraduate Otto Warmbier has received 15 years.

In July, North Korea announced that it would handle all issues with the United States in line with a wartime law in response to U.S. sanctions that target leader Kim Jong Un. It has not elaborated on what wartime law means, although analysts say that suggests North Korea could deal with U.S. detainees in a harsher manner.

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