The United Nations is assisting in a potentially tense situation involving Pvt. Travis King, an American soldier who crossed into North Korea.
The deputy commander of the United Nations Command confirmed on Monday that the U.N. has been in contact with the Korean People's Army, the military force of North Korea.
"The conversation has commenced with the KPA through the mechanisms of the armistice agreement," Gen. Andrew Harrison stated.
The armistice agreement was signed in 1953, effectively ending the armed conflict between North and South Korea. It has several different pillars that allow for communications during a potential crisis.
The communication between the North Koreans and the U.N. was likely conducted through the "pink phone." Despite being less than 100 yards apart in the Joint Security Area that separates the two countries, officials use the phone to communicate with the North Koreans.
Harrison wouldn't get into specifics about the conversations, citing the delicate nature of negotiations.
"I remain optimistic," he said. "But again, I will leave it at that."
King, 23, had reportedly just finished serving time in a South Korean jail for assault when he was due to fly back to the U.S. Instead of boarding the flight to Fort Bliss, Texas, to face disciplinary action, he joined a tour of the demilitarized zone and ran across the border into North Korea.
The communist country has not made any public statements about the American soldier.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul told ABC News on Sunday that he's concerned about North Korea's potential demands for King's safe return.
"We see this with Russia, China, Iran — when they take an American, particularly a soldier, captive, they exact a price for that," McCaul said. "And that's what I worry about."
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