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N. Korea rights record likely off table at Korean summit

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AFP

SEOUL (AFP) – Seoul’s top diplomat said yesterday that North Korea’s human rights record is unlikely to be discussed at this month’s summit, after Pyongyang denounced the South for supporting a fresh UN resolution against the North.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the South’s president Moon Jae-in are due to meet for a rare inter-Korean summit on April 27.

But Pyongyang’s state media condemned South Korea Tuesday for its “dubious double dealing”, after Seoul welcomed a new UN resolution against North Korea’s human rights violations.

Such action could jeopardise future dialogue, the North warned.

“This is an open political provocation to the DPRK and an intolerable act of chilling the atmosphere for dialogue,” the North’s official KCNA agency said in a commentary.

South Korea’s foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha said Seoul maintains a “firm stance” against the “dire human rights situation” in the North but that the prospect of Mr Moon discussing it with Mr Kim this month was unlikely.

“In order to enhance dialogue, the topics that both sides have agreed upon will be discussed,” Ms Kang told reporters.

North Korea’s rights record has been heavily criticised by the US and the UN.

The North is estimated to have up to 120,000 political prisoners in its sprawling gulag system.

A UN commission published a searing report in 2014 which concluded North Korea was committing human rights violations “without parallel in the contemporary world”.The summit will be only the third of its kind since the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice.

The two Koreas have yet to set an agenda for the summit, which will take place in the demilitarised zone.

Officials from both sides will meet today for working-level talks to discuss issues including protocol and security.

Landmark talks between Kim and US President Donald Trump are planned next month.

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