The White House has urged North Korea to release Merrill Newman, an 85-year-old US veteran of the Korean War who has been held in North Korean custody since last month.

"Given Mr Newman's advanced age and health conditions, we urge the DPRK to release Mr Newman so he may return home and reunite with his family," Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said on Saturday.

The White House also urged North Korean authorities to release Kenneth Bae, an American who has been held in the country for more than a year.

"We remain deeply concerned about the welfare of the US citizens held in custody in the DPRK," Hayden said in a statement.

Source: Reuters