WASHINGTON – The United States will move to court-martial former U.S. Army Sgt. Charles Robert Jenkins, who apparently defected to North Korea and married a Japanese abductee there, if he visits Japan, sources said Wednesday.
The U.S. notified Japan of its intention through a diplomatic channel, saying it would not provide exceptional treatment to Jenkins, the sources said.
Jenkins, 62, is listed by the U.S. military as having deserted to Pyongyang in 1965, when he was stationed near the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea.
Earlier this month, Japan asked the U.S. to pardon Jenkins so he and his wife, Hitomi Soga, could settle in Japan. Soga, 43, is one of the five Japanese abductees currently on a homecoming visit to Japan.
Soga and Jenkins have two daughters.
In Japan-North Korea normalization talks in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday and Wednesday, Tokyo called on Pyongyang to allow relatives of the visiting abductees to come to Japan.
Japan does not consider the response from the U.S. as Washington’s final answer in the matter, a Foreign Ministry source said.
Through talks with the U.S., Japan will lobby for Jenkins to avoid a court-martial, the source said.
With the threat of a court-martial hanging over him, Jenkins is unlikely to visit Japan.
Speaking out Thursday about the lack of progress in bilateral talks, Soga said, “It is regrettable that a reunion with my family has been put off further.”
Meanwhile, a U.S. source said there was a view in the State Department that special consideration should be given in Jenkins’ case in view of Japan-U.S. relations.
But Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld insisted that the U.S. military principle of prosecuting deserters be upheld, the source said.
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