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By Ben Blanchard and Michael Martina BEIJING (Reuters) - North Korea freed an 85-year-old retired American soldier on Saturday after detaining him for more than a month for crimes it said he committed during the Korean War six decades ago. The veteran, Merrill E. Newman, flew to China from North Korea in the morning. Hours later he left on a United Airlines flight to San Francisco to be reunited with his family, sources at Beijing airport said. North Korea's official KCNA news agency earlier said he was being deported on humanitarian grounds and because he had admitted to his wrongdoing and apologized.
North Korea Saturday deported an American veteran of the Korean War, two months after he was detained for "hostile acts" against the communist country. US officials said Merrill Newman, an 85-year-old from California, arrived in Beijing after being freed. North Korea deported him "from a humanitarian viewpoint", its official Korean Central News Agency said, citing his "sincere repentance" as well as his age and health condition. The release came as US Vice President Joe Biden visited South Korea, the last stop on a three-country Asia tour that has already taken him to Japan and China.
Diplomacy with Iran must be backed up by US military might, Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel said Saturday in a speech addressed to Gulf allies anxious over a nuclear deal with Tehran. Hagel promised the United States would maintain a 35,000-strong force in the Gulf region, as well as an armada of ships and warplanes, despite the recent deal with Tehran. Speaking at a security conference in Bahrain, he said the interim deal with Iran to roll back its nuclear programme was a risk worth taking but that Western diplomacy should not be "misinterpreted." The Pentagon "will not make any adjustments to its forces in the region -- or to its military planning -- as a result of the interim agreement with Iran," he added.