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U.S. determined to press N.K. over human rights abuses: State Department

All Headlines 09:03 December 12, 2018

WASHINGTON, Dec. 11 (Yonhap) -- The United States will continue to urge North Korea to address its human rights abuses while focusing on getting the regime to abandon its nuclear weapons program, the State Department said Tuesday.

The remark comes a day after the U.S. imposed sanctions on three North Korean officials, including a top aide to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, over alleged human rights abuses and censorship.

"Our goal remains the same, and that is the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea," Robert Palladino, the department's deputy spokesperson, said at a regular press briefing. "But at the same time, the United States remains resolved to press North Korea, the government, to respect human rights."

North Korea watchers have expressed concern that the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump is backing away from criticizing the North's human rights situation to avoid disrupting talks on denuclearizing the regime.

"We remain deeply concerned about the situation there," Palladino said, "and we've said many times before that sanctions must remain in place until we achieve the goals and objectives that Chairman Kim and the president agreed to in June."

The U.S. has maintained that North Korea should take more steps to fulfill the denuclearization commitment it made at the Trump-Kim summit in June.

But the North has demanded reciprocal measures, such as sanctions relief and a declaration to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War.

Palladino said communication between the two is "ongoing" ahead of an envisioned second summit early next year.

There have been no formal negotiations since the June summit, while a planned November meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a senior North Korean official was canceled at a day's notice.

hague@yna.co.kr
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