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N. Korea warns UN against discussing country's human rights situation

UNITED NATIONS : North Korea told the UN Security Council on Wednesday that it would consider any discussion of the country's human rights situation a "serious provocation" and Pyongyang would "respond strongly".

North Korea's UN Ambassador Kim Song delivered the warning in a letter, which was seen by Reuters. Diplomats said several members of the 15-member council planned to request a meeting this month on human rights abuses in North Korea.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump have met three times since June last year in a bid to broker a deal that Washington hopes will lead to North Korea dismantling its nuclear and missile programmes. But no progress had been made.

The US is president of the Security Council for December. The ambassador said any meeting on human rights would be an "act of conniving at and siding with the US' hostile policy, which will lead to undermining rather than helping reduction of tensions on the Korean peninsula and resolution of the nuclear issue".

At least nine council members need to support a request for the meeting to defeat any attempt to block it. Between 2014 and 2017, China failed to stop the annual discussion.

North Korea has repeatedly rejected accusations of human rights abuses and blames sanctions for a dire humanitarian situation. It demands they be removed. Pyongyang has been under UN sanctions since 2006 over its ballistic missiles and nuclear programmes.

"If the Security Council would push through the meeting on 'human rights issue' of the DPRK ... the situation on the Korean peninsula would take a turn for the worse again," the letter said.

A 2014 UN report on North Korean human rights concluded that North Korean officials should face justice for overseeing a state-controlled system of Nazi-style atrocities. - REUTERS

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