Secretary of State John Kerry has met with relatives of an American held by North Korea and is calling for him to be pardoned.
U.S. officials say the detainee, Kenneth Bae, is in poor health. He was arrested in November 2012 while leading a tour group and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for unspecified anti-government activity. Supporters say he did nothing wrong.
In a statement after Tuesday's meeting, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Bae and his family have apologized publicly for actions that led to the conviction. She urged North Korea to pardon Bae and grant him amnesty and immediate release.
North Korea has given no sign it will free him.
Bae's mother and sister will attend President Barack Obama's State of the Union address later Tuesday.