US welcomes Security Council meeting on North Korea

US welcomes Security Council meeting on North Korea

UNITED NATIONS, United States - The United States welcomed on Tuesday a UN Security Council decision to hold the first-ever meeting on North Korea's rights record after weeks of discussion to address Chinese and Russian objections.

US Ambassador Samantha Power said it was high time for the Security Council to discuss the findings of a UN commission inquiry that detailed cases of torture, rape, murder and enslavement in North Korea.

The 15-member council will meet on Monday amid calls for the Pyongyang regime to be referred to the International Criminal Court to face crimes against humanity charges.

Power said the UN report released in February confirmed that "the human rights violations in North Korea are among the worst in the world. They are widespread. They are systematic."

"And - given the threat they pose to peace and security - they have been going on outside the scrutiny of the UN Security Council for far too long," she said.

On Monday, the council will hear briefings from the top UN official for political affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, and the assistant secretary general for human rights Ivan Simonovic.

Under UN rules, North Korea can send a representative at the meeting.

The decision was scheduled after 10 of the 15 ambassadors signed a letter requesting the meeting.

China and Russia opposed the move, arguing that Pyongyang's rights record should be discussed at the UN Human Rights Council.

The UN General Assembly is due to vote later this week on a resolution that calls on the Security Council to refer Pyongyang to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The resolution was adopted by a vote of 111 to 19, with 55 abstentions by a General Assembly committee last month.

Diplomats said however that China was likely to veto any move to refer North Korea to the ICC.

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