Ahead of NAFTA talks, Canada says dispute mechanism essential

Canada FM urges US, North Korea to step back

Canada FM urges US, North Korea to step back

Lim, who served as pastor of one of Canada's largest churches, had been sentenced to hard labour for life in December 2015 after North Korea accused him of attempting to overthrow the regime.

A Mississauga, Ont., pastor released from prison in North Korea this week has returned to Canada.

"Rim Hyon Su, a Canadian civilian, was released on sick bail according to the decision of the Central Court of the DPRK on August 9, 2017, from the humanitarian viewpoint", KCNA said, using the country's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

There was no obvious direct connection between the release and the standoff with the United States, but North Korea has in the past attracted the attention of Washington, and visits by high-profile Americans, with the detention and release of USA citizens.

Lim's family said on Thursday he is healthy and not in critical condition. The circumstances of his death remain unclear.

An effective dispute settlement mechanism is essential in any trade agreement, Canada's foreign affairs minister said on Friday, less than a week before the first round of negotiations on the North American trade pact. Last year, Lim told CNN he spent eight hours a day digging holes at a labor camp where he had not seen any other prisoners.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula escalated further this week as the United States and North Korea exchanged a series of threats, with US President Donald Trump tweeting on Friday that the USA military was "locked and loaded".