U.S. envoy hopes to work with S. Korea on efforts to hold N.K. human rights abusers accountable

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SEOUL, The new U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights said Tuesday she would like to cooperate with South Korea's unification ministry on holding accountable those responsible for Pyongyang's "egregious" human rights record.

Ambassador Julie Turner, who is on a three-day visit to South Korea, made the remarks during her meeting with Unification Minister Kim Yung-ho, Seoul's point man on North Korea.

"North Korea's human rights record remains amongst the worst in the world," Turner said. "I very much look forward to working with your ministry, in particular to pursue accountability for those responsible for North Korea's egregious human rights record."

Turner's visit came amid renewed concerns over the forced repatriation of North Korean defectors following a news report that hundreds of North Korean defectors in China's Northeastern provinces were sent back to their repressive home country against their will last week.

Expressing Seoul's concerns over the issue, the unification minister called on the United States and the international community to help resolve such problems in a "fundamental" manner.

"The South Korean government has continuously emphasized to the relevant government that forced repatriation, against one's free will, should never happen," Kim said, reaffirming Seoul's efforts to ensure the safety of overseas defectors in countries including China.

Turner said the U.S. shares Seoul's concerns over last week's reported repatriation and is committed to helping provide protection and accepting North Korean refugees.

"We have much work to do together to help improve and make concrete change to help promote the welfare of the North Korean people," she said.

Turner was officially sworn in Friday, ending more than six years of vacancy in the post.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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