[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/07/11/clinton.northkorea.journalist/art.clinton.northkorea.journalists.gi.jpg caption="Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gives a news briefing Friday at the State Department."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The United States has dropped its request that two American journalists imprisoned in North Korea be released on humanitarian grounds, and is seeking amnesty instead, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.
A plea for amnesty implies forgiveness for some offense.
Previously, Clinton said the United States was seeking the immediate release of the women - Laura Ling and Euna Lee - on humanitarian grounds.
The women were sentenced in June to 12 years in prison on charges of entering the country illegally to conduct a smear campaign.
Laura Ling's sister, Lisa Ling, told CNN Friday night that she feels the change in approach is significant, and could aid negotiations for the women's freedom. Lisa Ling is a CNN contributor.
"The two journalists and their families have expressed great remorse for this incident, and I think everyone is very sorry that it happened," Clinton told a State Department briefing Friday.