The United States and China traded their typically differing views on the human rights situation in North Korea as the issue was discussed at a U.N. meeting in Geneva.
In its 25th session, the Human Right Council held an "interactive dialogue" with the Commission of Inquiry, which recently investigated North Korea's human rights record.
Michael Kirby, head of the COI, said it had found "systematic, widespread and grave human rights violations" occurring in the secretive communist nation.
He said there is a "disturbing array of crimes against humanity," adding, "These crimes arose from policies established at the highest level of the State."
A summary of the discussions was released by the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The U.S. immediately welcomed the COI's report to the council, calling it "excellent and comprehensive."
Washington strongly supports the commission's call for accountability, Robert King, the U.S. special envoy on North Korean human rights issues, told the session, according to the State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki.
But Chinese delegates dismissed the COI's report as groundless accusations.
They claimed the establishment of the U.N. investigative panel on North Korean human rights itself contravened the principle of addressing human rights issues through "constructive dialogue."
"The inability of the commission to get support and cooperation from the country concerned makes it impossible for the commission to carry out its mandate in an impartial, objective and effective manner," said Chen Chuandong, a counselor at China's mission in Geneva.
Beijing's stance dims hopes that the North Korean human rights problem will be referred to the International Criminal Court as proposed by the COI.
China, the North's last remaining major communist ally, has the right to veto such a move at the U.N. Security Council. (Yonhap)