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American detained by North Korea a ‘bargaining chip,’ Nikki Haley says

(Korean Central News Agency)

North Korea expects to use the American citizen it detained last week as a "bargaining chip" to force negotiations with Washington, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley asserted Monday.

She also warned Pyongyang: "It’s not gonna work."

"What we’re dealing with is a leader who is flailing right now," Haley said of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. "And I think what he’s trying to do is show his citizens that he has muscle, whether it’s through his — rhetoric, or whether it’s through his actions."

Haley, speaking on the CBS "This Morning" television program, was commenting on the reported detention in North Korean of Tony Kim, a 58-year-old academic who also goes by his Korean name, Kim Sang-duk.

He was reported arrested at the Pyongyang international airport where he was attempting to board a flight after a month-long teaching gig at a university just outside the capital.

The arrest comes at a time of particularly high tensions, as Kim and the Trump administration have traded high-pitched insults over North Korea’s continued pursuit of nuclear power.

Previous detentions of American citizens by the hermetic kingdom have triggered visits by high-level envoys, including former U.S. presidents and ambassadors, to secure their release.

North Korea apparently sees these moves as a way to forced engagements with the United States, though successive U.S. governments, including the Trump administration, have refused a dialogue with the regime.

"I think it’s absolutely a bargaining chip; I think that’s what their intentions are," Haley said.

But she remained adamant that the administration will not "appease" a "misbehaving" North Korea by opening formal talks.

Haley echoed President Trump in praising China for its support in trying to pressure North Korea, its ally.

"Station, this is your president, do you hear me?” President Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin arrive at the Treasury building on Friday. Michael Ron David Kadar leaves court in Rishon Lezion, Israel, on March 23. Protesters rally against President Trump’s executive order limiting travel from several Muslim-majority countries.