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The visit drew speculation that the envoy was to persuade the North to release the detained pastor.

Lim went missing during a trip to North Korea in January 2015 after traveling to the country in order to continue working on humanitarian projects previously established with the blessing of the North Korean government.

In December, the North's highest court sentenced Lim to life in prison with hard labor, citing his "subversive plots" against the North's regime.

His release comes two months after American college student Otto Warmbier was freed from North Korea, but died shortly after.

Over the weekend, a Canadian doctor and officials were dispatched to Pyongyang following reports that Lim had suffered "dramatic" weight loss.

Canadian Hyeon Soo Lim speaks in Pyongyang, North Korea.

Cameron Ahmad says in the statement it is an active case and the government would not be commenting further. Warmbier, sentenced last year to 15 years' hard labour for trying to steal a propaganda item from his hotel, died in a Cincinnati hospital days after being released in a coma.

The delegation that arrived in North Korea today was headed by Daniel Jean, who serves as Justin Trudeau's national security advisor.

Mr. Lim said during his news conference that the bags of food he had donated across North Korea had carried the sign of the cross and phrases from the Bible.

He is the second foreign citizen to be released on what the North Koreans have termed "humanitarian grounds" in 2017, following the release of USA citizen Otto Warmbier in June.

He was medically evacuated to the USA on a military plane the following day after serving prison in North Korea for 17 months.

Hyeon had visited the isolated nation dozens of times to help set up and work with orphanages and nursing homes.

Previous year he was digging holes for eight hours a day in a labour camp, but claimed he was the "sole prisoner" when he spoke to CNN.

The Canadian delegation arrived on the same day US President Donald Trump warned that Pyongyang would be met "with fire and fury and, frankly, power the likes of which the world has never seen before", if it does not stop threatening the US.