US vet Merrill Newman, 85, home from North Korea

SAN FRANCISCO - A tired but smiling 85-year-old U.S. veteran detained in North Korea for several weeks has returned home.

   He was greeted today by applause from supporters, yellow ribbons tied to pillars outside his home and the warm embrace of his family.

   Earlier, Merrill Newman arrived at the San Francisco airport after turning down a ride aboard Vice President Joe Biden's Air Force Two in favor of a direct flight from Beijing. He emerged into the international terminal smiling, accompanied by his son and holding the hand of his wife amid applause from supporters. He spoke briefly to the assembled media, declining to answer any questions or discuss his ordeal.

   He did say, however, he was "delighted to be home."

   He thanked the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang, North Korea, and U.S. Embassy in Beijing for helping to secure his release.

   Newman was detained in late October at the end of a 10-day trip to North Korea, a visit that came six decades after he oversaw a group of South Korean wartime guerrillas during the 1950-53 war.
 

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