Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has appealed directly to North Korea to release two American journalists accused of illegally entering the country and committing unspecified “hostile acts.”
It’s the highest level contact known between any member of the Obama administration and North Korea, and comes in the midst of an international standoff over North Korea’s recent nuclear tests.
“I have been involved directly in working with our team as they have made approaches and requests for information through the channels we use with North Korea,” Clinton said during an exclusive Sunday show interview on “This Week.”
ABC News learned Clinton sent a letter to North Korea apologizing on behalf of the journalists for crossing into North Korean territory and appealing for their release.
When I asked if she sent the letter to North Korea, Clinton nodded and said, “I have taken every action that we thought would produce the result we’re looking for.”
However the secretary of state said it isn’t clear who has the power to release the women. And, she said she’s concerned the women could become political pawns in the international debate over North Korea’s nuclear weapons tests.
On trial this week in North Korea, journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee face perhaps 10 years in a labor camp.
”We have gotten some responses but we’re not sure exactly who’s going to be making this decision and what the reasons for the eventual decision are,” Clinton said, “So, we’ve been very careful in what we’ve said because clearly we don’t want this pulled into the political issues that we have with North Korea, or the concerns that are being expressed in the United Nations Security Council. This is separate. It is a humanitarian issue and the girls should be let go.”
ABC News’ Kirit Radia contributed to this report.