China hosts North Korean youth delegation

Oct. 18, 2013 at 1:19 PM

BEIJING, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- The Chinese government said Friday it was hosting a youth delegation from North Korea, saying delegates are key to the future of friendly bilateral relations.

Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao met in Beijing with Jon Yong Nam, chairman of a youth socialist committee in North Korea.

China's official Xinhua News Agency reported Jon was leading a youth delegation to Beijing. The news agency said the vice president hopes both sides would expand such exchanges to ensure long-term and friendly bilateral affairs.

China has worked to restart stalled multilateral negotiations over North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Human rights groups have expressed concern that North Korea's focus on its military program comes at the expense of its people.

A three-member commission of inquiry, backed by the United Nations, said Thursday a series of witness hearings are scheduled to begin next week in the United Kingdom and United States to get a better understanding of the rights situation in North Korea.

Commission Chairman Michael Kirby, an Australian judge, said the inquiry was doing what it could to review North Korea.

"Although we do not have direct access to [North Korea], we are still able to gather vital information from individuals who have bravely come forward to tell their stories," he said in a statement.

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