N Korea to boycott university games in South over UN rights office

SEOUL - North Korea has said it will boycott a global sports event for university athletes to be held in South Korea because of Seoul's decision to open a UN office to investigate human rights abuses in the North, officials said on Monday.

Pyongyang has accused South Korea of a conspiracy to undermine its leadership by opening the human rights office, which arose from a UN commission of inquiry that documented killings, torture and political prison camps inside North Korea.

The office is expected to open in Seoul this week.

North Korea has notified organisers of the Universiade games in the South Korean city of Gwangju that it would not be participating, the head of the organising committee, Yoon Jang-hyun, told a news conference.

South Korean news agency Yonhap quoted the committee's secretary general, Kim Yoon-suk, as saying North Korea cited the UN human rights office as the reason for its boycott.

The two Koreas are technically still at war under a truce that ended the 1950-53 Korean War. A meeting of their leaders in 2000 led to a period of warmer ties but tensions flared anew in 2010 and relations remain difficult.

In March, the North said it would send a team of 108 athletes to compete in eight events at the Universiade games, including women's football, from July 2. There was hope that the North's participation would help a return to dialogue.

North Korea sent a team to the Asian Games held in the South Korean city of Incheon last year, and a delegation of high-ranking officials to the closing ceremony, that also raised hopes but no talks eventuated.

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