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N. Korean diplomat visits London to lobby against international pressure over human rights

A senior North Korean diplomat visited Britain earlier this month to lobby against international pressure on Pyongyang over its human rights record, an official said Friday.

The Dec. 9-11 visit to London was part of a European trip that also took Kim Son-gyong, director-general for European affairs at the North's Foreign Ministry, to Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and Poland.

While in London, Kim held meetings with Fiona Bruce, a member of parliament who co-chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea, as well as officials at the foreign ministry, according to an official at the South Korean Embassy.

The visit came after the Third Committee of the U.N. General Assembly on Nov. 19 passed a resolution that, for the second consecutive year, calls for referring North Korea to the International Criminal Court for human rights violations.

The resolution led to the U.N. Security Council holding the second-ever meeting on the North Korean human rights problem on Dec. 10 following the first one last year. The resolution was later formally adopted at the General Assembly on Dec. 18.

During the visit to London, Kim contended that the country is making efforts to improve its human rights record while reaffirming Pyongyang's existing position that last year's landmark U.N.

Commission of Inquiry's report on the North's human rights situation contained unilateral claims from North Korean defectors.

North Korea has long been labeled one of the worst human rights violators. The communist regime does not tolerate dissent, holds hundreds of thousands of people in political prison camps and keeps tight control over outside information.

But the North has bristled at such criticism, calling it a U.S.-led attempt to topple its regime.

In June, the U.S. State Department said in its annual human rights report that the North's human rights record "remained among the worst in the world" last year with public executions, political prison camps, torture and other abuses. (Yonhap)



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