SEOUL, July 4 (UPI) -- The North Korean government should take steps to improve human rights in the Asian country, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Friday.
The top United Nations official said the current state of human rights in North Korea was an "unacceptable situation" and an immediate response was needed to end abuses, The Korea Times reported.
"I think that North Korea should also take necessary steps to improve their human rights situation,'' Ban said.
"There are still many areas where human rights are not properly protected, and even abused,'' the former South Korean foreign minister added. "This is an unacceptable situation.''
In the past, North Korea has been accused of restricting citizens' political and religious freedoms, along with using torture and conducting public executions.
Ban said he was prepared to increase diplomatic relations with North Korea to help the country deal with the human rights issue and its controversial nuclear program, the Times reported.
"I would like to say again that I intend to take appropriate diplomatic measures as U.N. secretary-general if necessary, depending on development of the situation,'' Ban said.