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US considers ban on visits to North Korea

North Korea Pyongyang APThe US Secretary of State says it might prohibit all American citizens from travelling to North Korea. Speaking to the Foreign Affairs Committee last week, Rex Tillerson said his team had been weighing up the pros and cons of a blanket ban on visits to the Asian nation.

He did note that no final decision had been made and it was only a proposal. Political analysts in the US say the government would have to bring in new measures to enforce the ban. Current legislation allows the government to ban travel to counties it is actually at war with.

The US can also prohibit travel to nations where there is a civil war in progress or where US citizens would be at risk of losing their lives due to hostilities or contracting a fatal disease. One-time State Department officer Joseph DeThomas told reporters recently the US did not introduce travel bans unless it had to.

The former ambassador said the US simply did not adopt nanny-state tactics when it came to travel. He did note that North Korea was hardly the best place in the world to go for an adventure holiday and claimed there was a serious danger of being arrested for even the most minor infractions.

Current travel advice on the State Department’s website warns against travelling to North Korea and notes the US has no way of providing diplomatic assistance. The warning also says 16 Americans have been detained for lengthy periods over the last 10 years.

The return of US national Otto Warmbier last week after 18 months incarcerated in a North Korean prison propelled a possible travel ban into the limelight. The 22-year-old has serious brain injuries and was originally jailed for 15 years for the purported theft of a propaganda banner.

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