US backs UN action on North Korea human rights

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States said Friday it supported UN action on North Korea's human rights record after a hard-hitting report compared the regime's treatment of its people to the Holocaust.

Robert King, the US special envoy on North Korean human rights, voiced confidence that the UN Human Rights Council would pass a resolution on the totalitarian state's record at its session next week in Geneva.

Mr King said that details were still being worked out on the resolution, which is spearheaded by the European Union and Japan, but that the United States would back bringing North Korea's human rights record before the more powerful UN Security Council.

"If it can be worked out to have this debated and discussed in the Security Council, we certainly would be supportive of doing that," Mr King told reporters before his trip to Geneva.

But Mr King said that the Security Council was "fairly fully occupied," especially with the Ukraine crisis.

"It's a question of can we get it on the agenda and can we have a productive discussion, and we are hopeful that we can," Mr King said.

In a 400-page report last month, a UN Commission of Inquiry documented extermination of people, enslavement and sexual violence by North Korea. The commission's Australian chair Michael Kirby drew a parallel to the Holocaust and demanded international action.

But China holds veto power on the Security Council and has publicly rejected referring leaders of North Korea, its ally and neighbor, to the International Criminal Court for trial.

Mr King declined to discuss China's position on the issue but said that the United States has had a "positive" relationship with Beijing dealing with Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.

Mr King said that the United States - which has spent decades focusing, without success, on ending North Korea's nuclear program - was committed to raising human rights.

"We've taken the view that an improvement in the relationship between North Korea and the United States will depend on improvement in the North Korean record on human rights," he said.

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