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Dhaka Tribune

North Korea slams US censure on rights ahead of inter-Korea summit

Update : 25 Apr 2018, 06:39 PM

North Korea condemned US criticism of its human rights record as "ridiculous" as a diplomatic whirlwind accelerated ahead of leader Kim Jong Un's summits with the South and with US President Donald Trump.

In the latest sequence of messaging before Friday's summit between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in the Demilitarized Zone, Trump demanded the North give up its nuclear weapons - while describing its leader as "very open" and "very honourable."

Seoul said Moon will brief Trump by phone immediately after Friday's summit, and promised "close co-ordination" with the US.

The isolated North has been accused of a litany of state-sanctioned rights abuses including extrajudicial killing, torture, brutal crackdowns on dissent and even kidnapping foreign citizens.

The US State Department's latest rights report on the North, released last week, described "egregious human rights violations" in the authoritarian state from public executions to widespread surveillance of citizens.

In recent weeks Pyongyang has been uncharacteristically reticent in its criticisms of Seoul and Washington, sometimes casting their actions as "chilling the atmosphere for dialogue" as it mounts a charm offensive ahead of the summits.

But it angrily slammed the State Department report for "viciously slandering" the nation, accusing the US of being a "hotbed" of rights abuses itself, beset by "cancer-like" gun violence and "all sorts of injustice, deprivation of rights."

Washington was appointing itself as a "human rights judge," the official KCNA news agency said in a commentary late Tuesday, adding its "true aim" was to "create a pretext for political, military and economic aggression and pressure."

The remarks came days before only the third-ever inter-Korea summit, in which Moon will focus on persuading Kim to give up his widely-condemned nuclear weapons and easing military tension between the two Koreas.

They could discuss a path towards a peace treaty to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War, which stopped with a ceasefire, and reunions of families left divided by the conflict.

Moon told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that he would raise the issue of Japanese citizens kidnapped by the North's agents to train Pyongyang's spies - an enduring issue in Tokyo.

"I plan to tell... Kim that resolving the Japanese abduction issue will help establish peace in northeast Asia," Moon's office cited him as saying.

Seoul said Moon's national security advisor Chung Eui-yong had met his US counterpart John Bolton in Washington.

The two promised to co-ordinate closely and discussed a possible meeting between Moon and Trump before the US-North Korea summit, it added.

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