Trump Officials Block UN Meeting on Human Rights Abuses in North Korea

Jung Yeon-je South Koreans watch footage of a North Korean missile launch shown at a railway station in Seoul in October 2019

"North Korea and other abusive governments that the United States is going easy on are undoubtedly elated that the days of USA criticism of their human rights records appear to be over for the time being", said Louis Charbonneau, United Nations officer at Human Rights Watch.

Diplomatic efforts have largely remained deadlocked since a second summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un failed last February.

Tensions are quickly rising between the United States and North Korea, which has ramped up pressure as it demands concessions by President Donald Trump's administration by the end of the year.

He told reporters that Kim has "too much to lose, everything actually, if he acts in a hostile way" and said he would be "surprised if North Korea (DPRK) acted hostilely".

At least eight countries on the 15-member UN Security Council had been pushing for a Tuesday meeting on human rights abuses in North Korea, sparking Pyongyang to warn it would consider such a move a "serious provocation" and that it would " respond strongly".

"North Korea described the current [rocket] engine tests as "extremely important" and "changing the strategic position".

In a rare personal attack on Trump since the start of diplomacy, Kim Yong-chol, a long-time aide to the top leader, called the U.S. president a "heedless and erratic old man" and condemned his "odd words and expression".

North Korea also last week announced the creation of a company dedicated to creating medical tourism services for foreign visitors at the country's hot spring spas and state-run hospitals, where they will be able to receive cataract surgeries, dental implants and breast tumour treatments.

North Korea's United Nations ambassador, Kim Song, sent a letter to all 14 council members except the US last Wednesday warning that holding a meeting on its human rights would be "another serious provocation" resulting from America's "hostile policy".

In 2014, after a United Nations commission released a report on widespread rights violations in North Korea, the Americans supported an annual meeting on the council devoted to the subject.

If Trump is not "astonished" by North Korea's response, "we will be irritated", Kim, now the chairman of the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.

The North Korean official also said that Mr. Trump's latest Twitter messages showed that the president was "an old man bereft of patience". Mr. Kim retorted that Mr. Trump was " a mentally deranged US dotard ".

Tourism is excluded from the heavy sanctions the UN Security Council has imposed on the North over its nuclear weapons program, which includes a full ban on key exports like coal, textile and seafood and strict limitations on oil imports.

Even as subsequent talks stalled, Mr. Trump continued to claim a "good relationship" with Mr. Kim.

On Thursday, the North's vice foreign minister Choe Son Hui warned of again referring to Trump as a "dotard" - Pyongyang's favored nickname for the USA president at the height of tensions in 2017.

DPRK's envoy to the UN Kim Song said on Saturday that denuclearization was off the negotiating table and lengthy talks with Washington were not needed. Rick Gladstone contributed reporting from NY.



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