(LEAD) S. Korean diplomat discusses reviving N.K. human rights consultation with U.S. envoy

SEOUL, A senior South Korean diplomat has held talks with the new U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights and agreed to cooperate in resuming a consultative meeting to better address the dire situation of Pyongyang, the foreign ministry said Tuesday.

Chun Young-hee, director general for the Korean Peninsula peace regime at the ministry, and Ambassador Julie Turner met Monday and discussed efforts to coordinate over North Korean human rights issues, it said.

Turner, who is currently visiting Seoul on a three-day trip, was officially sworn in Friday, ending more than six years of vacancy at the post.

Chun congratulated Turner on her appointment, saying the two countries could strengthen joint efforts to improve North Korea's human rights situation and hold the North accountable for the issue.

He also proposed the two countries revive a consultative body on North Korea's human rights to discuss specific cooperative measures, according to the ministry.

The two sides agreed to maintain close communication via diplomatic channels to restart the consultative body meetings, which observers say could take place as early as this year.

A ministry official said various ways to improve the consultative mechanism were discussed at the meeting.

South Korea and the United States launched the bilateral North Korean Human Rights Consultation in 2016 and held three meetings that year and the following year.

Bilateral talks, however, were not held under the previous liberal administration of President Moon Jae-in, accused by critics of failing to promote the human rights of North Koreans to avoid tensions with Pyongyang.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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