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North Korea detains US citizen

North Korea has confirmed that it has arrested an American man for committing an unspecified crime and is preparing to indict him.

The man, identified by the North's official Korean Central News Agency as Jun Young Su, is the latest US citizen to be detained in the reclusive communist state in recent years.

North Korea informed Washington about the situation and Jun is being given necessary humanitarian conveniences including consular contact with Swedish Embassy officials in Pyongyang, the news agency dispatch said.

Earlier this week, the US State Department called for North Korea to release one of its citizens and said Swedish officials had visited the American. But it gave no further details.

The US - which fought on South Korea's side during the 1950-53 Korean War - does not have diplomatic staff inside North Korea and Sweden handles Washington's interests there.

Several Americans have been detained in North Korea in recent years and freeing them often requires high-profile negotiations.

In August, former president Jimmy Carter brought home Aijalon Gomes, who had been sentenced to eight years' hard labour for crossing into the North from China. He was detained for seven months in all.

Korean-American missionary Robert Park defiantly walked into North Korea on Christmas Day in 2009 to draw attention to the North's alleged human rights abuses and to call for the resignation of leader Kim Jong Il. He was released weeks later without charge.

Also in 2009, journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee were arrested for trespassing in North Korea and released only after former president Bill Clinton made a trip to Pyongyang to ask for their freedom.

The latest arrest came as Mr Carter plans to travel to Pyongyang again as early as this month. He said last week that he plans to focus on trying to revive international disarmament talks on the North's nuclear programme and seek ways to help with the country's humanitarian woes.

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