Tags: NKorea | rights | envoy | US

Obama Envoy Again Chides NKorea on Rights

Thursday, 14 Jan 2010 10:52 AM


SEOUL — A top US envoy on Thursday urged North Korea to drastically improve its "appalling" human rights record, warning it was crucial to securing better relations with Washington.

Robert King, the US special envoy on human rights in North Korea, on the last full day of a visit to South Korea told local Internet users he saw no quick fix to improving the rights situation.

"Improvement in human rights conditions will not happen overnight, but we need to continue to press for better human rights conditions," King said in an online chat with locals organised by the US embassy.

"But we also need to be patient."

The envoy reiterated that the communist state must improve its rights record if it wants better relations with the United States.

"Improved relations between the US and North Korea will have to involve a greater respect for human rights by North Korea," he said.

On Monday, the first full day of his fact-finding visit, King said North Korea was "one of the worst places in terms of lack of human rights. The situation is appalling".

During his stay in Seoul King talked to government officials, North Korean defectors, family members of abductees held in the North and non-governmental organisations. He is due to leave for Japan on Friday.

At a hearing of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva last month, the North faced demands from Western countries to open up to international organisations and independent monitors.

Countries also raised concerns about "serious human rights violations" including reports of child labour, executions, the detention of political prisoners and torture.

Pyongyang's representative rejected many of the allegations as "fabricated".

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved

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