Wednesday, May 25, 2011

US human rights envoy visiting North Korea

U.S. human rights envoy Robert King has begun a week-long visit to North Korea to assess the country's food shortage and a possible resumption of U.S. food aid.

King, the first U.S. official to visit North Korea in 17 months -- and the first by a human rights envoy since 2004 -- arrived to little fanfare. He has been highly critical of North Korea's record on human rights. In January last year, during his first trip to Seoul after being confirmed by the U.S. Senate in his post, King said the North was "one of the worst places in terms of the lack of human rights." He also said human rights issues will play a part in any agreement with the United States.

King is to remain in Pyongyang until at least the weekend, although some of the delegation may stay longer if they decide to travel to remote parts of the country.

"We will be making a decision on [resuming food aid] over the next few days," U.S. Envoy to South Korea Stephen Bosworth said.

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