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Baker shows understanding about Jenkins' case.

TOKYO, June 3 Kyodo

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Howard Baker expressed sympathy Tuesday for Charles Robert Jenkins, the American husband of former abductee Hitomi Soga, as his status as a deserter of the U.S. military puts him at risk of arrest or court-martial if he visits Japan from North Korea.

''I have a deep sympathy for the abductees and for their families...that includes Mrs. Soga's husband,'' Baker said referring to Jenkins, 63, a former U.S. Army sergeant who is listed as having deserted in 1965.

But Baker said, ''It will be by expectation that while we have sympathy for him that the legal process will have to operate,'' without elaborating on specifics of the legal process.

Baker made the remarks during an interview at his official residence. U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was also present at the interview conducted by reporters from Kyodo News and other media organizations.

Tokyo is urging Washington to give special consideration to Jenkins' case considering the tug-of-war between it and Pyongyang over reuniting five Japanese, who returned last October after being abducted to North Korea in 1978, with their families in the North.

The five returned for what was supposedly a brief homecoming, but Japan decided they would remain.

Pyongyang, meanwhile, has claimed that Tokyo broke its promise to return the five after a short trip, and has since urged the five to rejoin their family members back in the North.

Jenkins married Soga, 44, in North Korea in 1980 and lives with their two daughters in Pyongyang.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Jun 9, 2003
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