North Korea has criticized Washington’s decision to ban U.S. passport holders from visiting the North, with state media describing it on Friday as a “sordid” attempt to limit human exchanges.

The North’s KCNA news agency, citing an unidentified spokesman for the foreign ministry, said there was no reason for foreigners to feel threatened while in North Korea and that citizens from around the world were encouraged to visit.

“Our doors are always open for all Americans who visit our country out of good will and wish to see our reality,” the spokesman said.

The U.S. State Department said earlier this week the ban would take effect on Sept. 1, although some, including journalists and humanitarian workers, may apply for exceptions.

The ban will make reclusive North Korea the only country to which U.S. citizens are banned from travelling.

It follows the death in June of U.S. student Otto Warmbier, who was sentenced in North Korea last year to 15 years’ hard labour for trying to steal an item bearing a propaganda item from his hotel.

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