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S. Korea, U.S. discuss ways to improve N.K. human rights situation

All Headlines 12:01 April 05, 2016

SEOUL, April 5 (Yonhap) -- The U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights issues met with South Korean officials Tuesday to discuss ways to improve the human rights situation in the communist country.

Amb. Robert King, who arrived here Saturday for a five-day trip, held closed-door meetings with senior officials handling North Korea issues at the Unification and Foreign Ministries, according to multiple sources.

North Korea has come under growing pressure to improve its human rights record amid allegations of serious abuses, including holding hundreds of thousands of political prisoners in concentration camps, torture, rape and public executions. Pyongyang, however, rejects the accusations as a U.S.-led campaign to topple its regime.

Last month, U.S. President Barack Obama issued an executive order calling for more stringent sanctions to punish North Korea for its fourth nuclear test in January and long-range rocket launch in February. Among them is a sanction against people who have engaged in exporting workers from North Korea to send money to the Pyongyang regime.

The issue has drawn attention as it could mean that Chinese and Russian firms hiring North Korean workers could be subject to the sanctions.

"We are exploring ways to work together on that," said one diplomatic source, who spoke to Yonhap News Agency on the condition of anonymity.

At the Foreign Ministry, King met with Kim Yong-hyon, director-general of the Korean Peninsula peace regime bureau, to discuss the allies' and international community's recent efforts to address the North's human rights situation.

In March, South Korea's National Assembly passed a North Korean human rights bill after years of delay, which among other things calls for setting up a foundation to collect information and keep archives on the North's human rights situation.

Also last month, the U.N. Human Rights Council adopted a North Korea human rights resolution that centers on appointing up to two independent experts to verify the North's human rights violations.

hague@yna.co.kr
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