Robert King to visit Tokyo and Seoul

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Robert King to visit Tokyo and Seoul

Robert King, special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, will depart for a weeklong visit to Tokyo and Seoul today amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the U.S. Department of State announced yesterday.

The trip comes after President Park Geun-hye, U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held trilateral talks last week for the first time in The Hague, during which they primarily discussed the North Korea nuclear issue.

The State Department said that King will be in Tokyo from Thursday to Saturday. He is expected to address the abduction of Japanese nationals by North Korea during the 1970s and ’80s. King’s visit follows a high-level governmental summit between Tokyo and Pyongyang, which was held earlier this week in Beijing.

In South Korea, from Sunday to April 9, he will meet with officials from the Blue House and the ministries of foreign affairs and unification.

King is also expected to bring up the detainment of Korean-American tour guide Kenneth Bae, who has been held in North Korea for more than a year. Pyongyang in February rescinded an offer to allow King to visit the country to negotiate Bae’s release.

Last week, the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva passed a resolution urging an international criminal investigation into North Korea’s human rights situation and the crimes against humanity committed by the regime. It also called for the consideration of targeted sanctions against those responsible, to which Pyongyang responded in a hostile manner.

The resolution was based on the findings of a report released in February by the Commission of Inquiry (COI) on the dire human rights situation in North Korea, which detailed systematic human rights abuses, including rape, torture and arbitrary detention by the regime.

It also recommended that North Korean leaders answer for their atrocities in front of the International Criminal Court. According to the U.S. State Department, King will also speak with civil society groups and deliver a speech at Ewha Womans University in Seoul on April 9.

BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]


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