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S. Korea, US hold NK human rights talks in Washington

By Yonhap

Published : April 16, 2024 - 09:11

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Chun Young-hee (left), director general for the Korean Peninsula peace regime at Seoul's foreign ministry, shakes hands with Julie Turner, the US special envoy for North Korean human rights issues as they meet for talks in Washington on Monday. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) Chun Young-hee (left), director general for the Korean Peninsula peace regime at Seoul's foreign ministry, shakes hands with Julie Turner, the US special envoy for North Korean human rights issues as they meet for talks in Washington on Monday. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Diplomats from South Korea and the United States held a new session of their bilateral dialogue on North Korean human rights in Washington on Monday, as the two sides see a close link between Pyongyang's weapons programs and its rights conditions.

Chun Young-hee, director general for the Korean Peninsula peace regime at Seoul's foreign ministry, and Julie Turner, the US special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, led the second session of the dialogue that was relaunched in November following a yearslong hiatus, according to the ministry.

The two sides noted that the North Korean regime's "obsession" with its development of nuclear weapons and missiles has led to an infringement on North Korean people's basic rights and further exacerbated the human rights situation.

"(They) stressed that the international community should pay more attention to the issue of improving North Korean people's access to information so as to make them realize the North's reality by themselves," the ministry said in a press release.

Chun expressed concerns that less than 0.1 percent of the North's 26-million population use the internet, while underscoring the need to raise voices for the removal of the North's tough public control measures to help address the "information divide" between the North and the outside world.

The two sides also agreed to continue joint efforts to spread consensus over the seriousness of the North Korean rights issues and ensure accountability for those responsible for rights violations in the North.

The officials discussed ways to step up cooperation over the issue of abductees, detainees and prisoners of the 1950-53 Korean War, and concurred to continue raising the issue on the multilateral stage.

They also agreed to urge Pyongyang to comply with international human rights norms and faithfully implement the UN resolution on North Korean human rights.

Turner called for close bilateral coordination over specific measures to substantively improve rights in the North.

The two sides agreed to push for the next session of the dialogue in the second half of the year.

While in Washington, Chun also met with US Senior Official for North Korea Jung Pak to discuss North Korea's ties with Russia and other issues. (Yonhap)