SEOUL-- A U.S. State Department spokeswoman has urged all countries to cooperate in protecting North Korean refugees and asylum seekers within their territories, a U.S. broadcaster reported Tuesday.

Katina Adams, a spokeswoman for the State Department's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, made the remark over the phone, while commenting on China's latest refusal of the U.N. Human Rights Council's calls to stop its repatriation of North Korea defectors, Voice of America said.

On Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang repeated the Chinese government's stance that the defectors are not refugees, asserting that China has properly dealt with people who illegally cross the border pertinent to domestic and international laws and humanitarian principles.

The U.S. government is deeply concerned about the treatment of North Korean defectors, and continuously cooperating with the U.S, human rights watchdog for their protection, Katina was cited as saying.

Source: Yonhap News Agency