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EU Weighs Pyongyang Human Rights Invitation

  • Lee Yeon Cheol

North Korean defectors shout slogans during a press conference demanding the improvement of North Korean's human rights, in front of National Human Rights Commission of Korea in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014.

North Korean defectors shout slogans during a press conference demanding the improvement of North Korean's human rights, in front of National Human Rights Commission of Korea in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014.

The European Union is still considering North Korea’s invitation for a visit by a top EU human rights official despite the country’s rejection of a resolution recently passed by a United Nations rights committee, a European Union official said.

EU officials say they still consider Pyongyang's invitation open despite a warning from the country that it would halt cooperation on human rights after the U.N. committee adopted a resolution calling for referral to the International Criminal Court.

“We are not aware of the invitation having been withdrawn by the DPRK," the EU’s foreign affairs spokesperson, Maja Kocijancic, wrote in an e-mail sent to VOA this week. "The invitation is being considered.”

Kocijancic said “recently there have been mixed signals” by Pyongyang on the country’s human rights situation. She urged the country to resume dialogue on the issue.

Late last month, Pyongyang invited the EU’s special representative for human rights, Stavros Lambrinidis, to visit. The move was seen as a positive step toward resuming talks that have been stalled since 2003.

But last week, North Korea reacted angrily to the vote by the U.N. human rights committee. “The enforced adoption of the resolution clearly shows there is no further need for human rights dialogue with the European Union,” said Choe Myong Nam, North Korea’s point man on human rights issues, after the passage of the resolution.

On Tuesday, North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency said a rally was held in Pyongyang to support a statement by the North’s National Defense Commission that warned of “catastrophic consequences” for supporters of the U.N. measure.

Jee Abbey Lee contributed to this report, which was produced in collaboration with the VOA Korean service.

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