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Canadian pastor’s release from North Korean prison result of long diplomatic negotiation: source

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Updated: 07:26 GMT, Aug 11, 2017 | Published: 07:25 GMT, Aug 11, 2017 |
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The release of a Canadian pastor held in a North Korean prison for more than two years was the result of a long negotiation between Canada and North Korea, CBC News has learned.

Rev. Hyeon Soo Lim, a Presbyterian minister from Mississauga, Ont., arrived in Japan early Thursday, but the story of his release began at the United Nations headquarters in New York, one of the few venues where Canadian and North Korean diplomats meet.

According to a source with knowledge of the negotiations, talks started to get serious around last December, but stalled when North Korea asked that, in return for releasing Lim, Canada name an ambassador or full-time envoy to North Korea.

The Canadian government, however, did not want to have a permanent presence in Pyongyang, preferring a special envoy to conduct diplomacy with a limited purpose for a limited time.

The Kim Jong-un regime allowed two Canadians to visit Lim around Christmas, but the negotiations remained stuck for months.