NEW YORK, Oct. 29 (UPI) -- A United Nations human rights investigator said he was offered an opportunity to visit North Korea, but only if the momentum to indict leader Kim Jong Un is reduced.
The unprecedented and unexpected offer to visit the isolated country -- the first to a U.N. inspector in 10 years -- was called an "interesting turn of events" by the recipient, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea Marzuki Darusman, who was a member of a panel that issued a devastating report on North Korean human rights abuses earlier this year.
The invitation to Darusman and U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein was extended Monday by unidentified North Korean diplomats, and is only valid if the global momentum to prosecute Kim for abuses is slowed, Darusman said after he presented his annual report to the General Assembly's human rights commission Tuesday.
Darusman told reporters at the United Nations he was surprised by the offer.
"There has been an interesting turn of events. There was discussion about a possible visit, there was a discussion about certain parts of the resolution, so you will be able to make your own conclusions as to how they relate to each other."
He added the North Korean diplomats requested that two provisions of a 400-page General Assembly resolution drafted by Japan and European Union countries be removed -- a recommendation that the International Criminal Court prosecute North Korean abuses, and another that specifically names Kim as personally accountable for the crimes.
Human rights advocates regarded the offer a stalling maneuver on North Korea's part, an element of a recent counter-strategy that has included the unexpected release of an American prisoner and sudden interest in diplomatic engagement with Japan and South Korea.
"It would be a terrible geopolitical bargain to trade away a major and historic U.N. resolution in exchange for a single visit by a U.N. rapporteur. It is the diplomatic equivalent to giving away a valuable house in exchange for a sandwich," John Sifton of the advocacy group Human Rights Watch told The New York Times.