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BEIJING — A U.S. diplomat on Tuesday urged North Korea to pardon imprisoned American Kenneth Bae, saying he is in poor health and needs to return home.

U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Glyn Davies' call for Bae's freedom follows a news conference given by the missionary earlier this month at which he said his situation was growing more difficult.

"We hope that they're willing to release Kenneth Bae," Davies told reporters after talks with Chinese officials in Beijing. "His family is understandably very worried about his fate and would like him to be returned to them."

Bae was arrested in November 2012 while leading a tour group and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for unspecified anti-government activity. He was moved to a hospital last summer in poor health, but said at his news conference that he was being transferred back to prison.

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