Under rights pressure, N. Korea sends envoy to Russia

14th November 2014, Comments 0 comments

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un will send a special envoy to Russia next week for an eight-day visit, officials said Friday, at a time when Pyongyang is seeking allies to fend off a UN resolution on its human rights record.

Choe Ryong-Hae, one of Kim's top aides, will arrive in Russia on Monday for a visit ending on November 24, during which he will visit Moscow and far eastern Russia, the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

The visit had initially been announced by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

Moscow said the visit was set to discuss "current questions of bilateral relations" including "raising the level of political dialogue and ways of activating trade and economic relations.

It will also address the "situation on the Korean peninsula and the North-Eastern Asia region" and "certain international problems that are of mutual interest.

"After visiting Moscow, Choe will travel to the cities of Vladivostok and Khabarovsk in far eastern Russia, which shares a border with North Korea, the Russian foreign ministry said.

A UN General Assembly is expected to vote next week on a resolution -- drafted by the EU and Japan -- that blasts the North's rights record and suggests its leaders be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for possible crimes against humanity charges.

The resolution followed a comprehensive UN inquiry, based on testimony of North Korean exiles, that detailed a vast network of prison camps and documented cases of torture, rape, murder and enslavement.

North Korea has launched a diplomatic campaign to have key provisions of the resolution scrapped, and even offered to allow a visit by UN investigators if the recommendation for referral to the ICC was dropped.

The resolution refers to the findings of the UN inquiry, noting that there are "reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed.

pursuant to policies established at the highest level of the state for decades.

"It asks the UN Security Council to "take appropriate action to ensure accountability," including a possible referral to the Hague-based ICC.

But any such referral is likely to be blocked by China, the North's main ally and diplomatic protector -- and possibly Russia, which also wields a veto on the UN Security Council.

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© 2014 AFP

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