U.N. has mixed report card for North Korea

March 13, 2012 at 10:16 AM
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GENEVA, Switzerland, March 13 (UPI) -- The United Nations welcomes recent progress on North Korean nuclear concerns but has outstanding issues with the country's rights record, an envoy said.

Following talks with U.S. officials, North Korea said it placed a moratorium on long-range missile launches, nuclear tests and other nuclear-related material in exchange for food assistance.

Tomas Ojea Quintana, U.N. special envoy on human rights, told the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva that he welcomed progress made on the nuclear issue.

The talks earlier this month in Beijing were the first since North Korean leader Kim Jong Il died in December. Kim Jong Un, the late leader's youngest son, took control over North Korea and Quintana said the ramifications of regime change won't be known for some time.

"I believe that the current transition may be a window of opportunity for the country to adopt a reform process and address all questions and concerns in relation to human rights, which will be welcomed from all quarters," he said.

He lamented, however, that he's been unable to visit the country to assess the human rights situation first hand.

"Indeed, I believe that there has been a significant deterioration in the human rights situation in the country," he said.

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