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North Korea to try 2 U.S. journalists for 'hostile acts'


MOSCOW, April 24 (RIA Novosti) - North Korea said on Friday it would try two female American journalists arrested last month for border trespass and unspecified "hostile acts."

Chinese-American Laura Ling and Korean-American Euna Lee, reporters for Current TV in California, were arrested in the early hours of March 17 near the Tumen River, which marks the reclusive communist state's border with China.

"A competent authority of the DPRK (North Korea) has concluded the investigation into the United States journalists. The authority has formally decided to refer them to a trial on the basis of the confirmed crimes committed by them," North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency said, without giving further details.

The two reporters were working on a dispatch about North Korean refugees fleeing to China.

Analysts say the trial is aimed at putting pressure on the United States to make concessions in its negotiations with Pyongyang. Similar reasons have been suggested for the North's arrest of a South Korean worker at the Kaesong industrial complex, for allegedly making critical comments about Pyongyang's regime, and encouraging a North Korean woman to defect.

Speaking on Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Washington was willing to engage in dialogue with Pyongyang, which has pulled out of six-nation talks on its nuclear disarmament, but urged countries not to give in to its unpredictable behavior.

Washington has said it is working to secure the release of the journalists.

On Thursday, North Korean officials told the visiting Russian foreign minister that the country had no intention of returning to the six-nation talks, involving North and South Korea, Russia, Japan, China and the United States. The talks were launched in 2003 after Pyongyang withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

As well as abandoning the talks, the North has also expelled UN nuclear inspectors and pledged to resume its work at the Yongbyon nuclear facility.

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