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N. Korea raps US official's human rights remarks

The North Korean foreign ministry on Saturday denounced a US official's remarks on its human rights conditions, which it claimed came at a time when Pyongyang-Washington relations "are reaching a highly delicate point."

"Such malicious words which came at this time when the DPRK-US relations are reaching a highly delicate point will only produce a result of further aggravating the already tense situation on the Korean peninsula, like pouring oil over burning fire," the ministry spokesperson said in an interview carried by the North's state media Korean Central News Agency.

The statement slammed a Voice of America interview featuring Robert Destro, US assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, who commented on the United Nations' recent adoption of a North Korea human rights resolution.

(Reuters)
(Reuters)

Destro voiced concern about human rights circumstances in North Korea, mentioning the need to intervene to get "a human rights violator like North Korea" to "change their behavior," according to the VOA interview.

The North's foreign affairs spokesperson warned against any intervention saying, "If the US dares to impair our system by taking issue over 'human rights issue,' it will be made to pay dearly for such an act."

The commentary, the North's first reaction following the recent UN resolution, was seen as much more toned down compared to a Nov.17 statement denouncing the UN resolution and also targeting Destro's comments rather than directly criticizing the resolution.

The Saturday remarks, meanwhile, came as Pyongyang in recent weeks has ratcheted up its rhetoric ahead of its self-imposed year-end deadline on nuclear negotiations with Washington.

North Korea has warned the US of an unwanted "Christmas gift" unless the latter takes steps to salvage the talks that have shown little progress since a February summit between their two leaders.

The North has also not yet responded to US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun's public offer for a meeting. (Yonhap)

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