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Diplomat: US Committed to Ending Abuses in N. Korea

by Yeon Cheol Lee February 26, 2015

A senior U.S. official said the United States is dedicated to improving human rights conditions in North Korea.

Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said in a recent meeting with North Korean defectors at U.N. headquarters in New York that 'President [Barack] Obama, I, and his entire administration are committed to doing everything we can to end the suffering that we know is occurring in your country."

The comments came amid heightened tensions between Washington and Pyongyang over the communist country's human rights record.

Recently, the North launched an intensive campaign to counter international criticism of its human rights violations. This week, a South Korean official said the North would dispatch its top diplomat to a high-level U.N. human rights meeting for the first time.

Power said there is growing awareness of the North Korean human rights issue despite the regime's efforts to keep it in the dark.

"You may believe that you are hidden from the world and that we are too far away that we cannot know what is happening there, that the North Korean regime is succeeding in hiding from the world what it is doing. But that is not the case," she said.

Power reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to raising the issue.

"We also see and hear clearly the North Korean officials who are committing these abuses against their own people, and we will continue to force them into the spotlight until they stop," the ambassador said.

Also this week, the top U.S. envoy for North Korean nuclear talks, Sung Kim, said Washington had no illusions about Pyongyang's human rights abuses.

Last year, a U.N. panel released a report detailing gross human rights abuses in the North.

The report accused the country of committing crimes against humanity and recommended that the North Korean human rights situation be referred to the International Criminal Court.

Jee Abbey Lee and William Kim contributed to this report.

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