North Korea has withdrawn its invitation for a top U.S. envoy to visit imprisoned American missionary Kenneth Bae.
The move comes in protest of upcoming routine joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea.
Bae, 45, has been held by the communist regime for more than a year. North Korean officials jailed Bae for so-called anti-government acts in November 2012 when he was leading a tour group there.
The U.S. State Department has since called for Bae's immediate release.
"We are deeply disappointed by the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) decision - for a second time - to rescind its invitation for Ambassador King to travel to Pyongyang to discuss Kenneth Bae's release," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
"The DPRK announced publicly in May 2013 it would not use the fate of Kenneth Bae as a political bargaining chip," she continued.
She added that the upcoming military drills with South Korea are "in no way linked to Mr. Bae's case."