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Carter hoping to bring home US man

Former US president Jimmy Carter has arrived in North Korea on a mission aimed at bringing home a jailed American.

He is hoping to win the release of a 31-year-old man sentenced to eight years in prison for entering the country illegally in January.

Aijalon Mahli Gomes, from Boston, was arrested after crossing from China.

North Korea agreed to release him to Mr Carter if the ex-president made the journey to Pyongyang, a senior US official said.

Mr Carter was expected to spend one night in North Korea and return home with Gomes on Thursday. The official stressed that Mr Carter was not representing the US government and was on a private mission, such as when former president Bill Clinton travelled to Pyongyang last summer to secure the release of two American journalists also sentenced for trespassing.

The US has pressed for Mr Gomes' release on humanitarian grounds, citing his health and reports that he attempted suicide while in custody.

The pleas come amid a stand-off over blame for the sinking of a South Korean warship that killed 46 sailors. Seoul and Washington blame Pyongyang for the incident; North Korea denies involvement.

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