WASHINGTON (AP) – North Korea’s release of Jeffrey Fowle was a surprise to a retired American ambassador who negotiated with Pyongyang for the West Carrollton man’s freedom.
Tony Hall, a former diplomat and congressman from Ohio, said on Wednesday the U.S. push for Fowle’s release also included efforts from Sweden, China, Japan and Mongolia.
Hall said he spoke with Pyongyang’s ambassador to the United Nations three times and described conversations with high-ranking officials in North Korea whom he would not name.
Hall called Fowle’s release a major step for North Korea, which he said may be trying to open relations with the U.S.
He did not know in advance that Fowle was to be freed and was not involved in talks to free two other Americans detained in North Korea.
Hall is a graduate of Fairmont High School in Kettering. He served as the U.S. representative in the Dayton district for 24 years, the longest tenure for that post. He also served as an Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture under President George W. Bush.
Hall was a well-known proponent of hunger issues in the Miami Valley and around the world. He is currently an ambassador and Executive Director Emeritus at the Alliance to End Hunger.