The US accuses China of trying to cover up North Korean atrocities

UN, March 17 (Reuters) – The United States accused China on Friday of trying to hide North Korean atrocities from the world by blocking a webcast of an informal meeting of UN Security Council members discussing allegations of human rights abuses by Pyongyang.

“Some members of the council are all too willing to shield the administration from accountability,” US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said at the meeting, referring to China and Russia under cover.

China and Russia argue that the 15-member Security Council, which is tasked with maintaining international peace and security, should not discuss human rights issues. They say such meetings should be restricted to other UN bodies, such as the UN Human Rights Council or the UN General Assembly.

Chinese diplomat Xing Jisheng said the meeting hosted by the US and Albania was “not constructive in any way”.

“Instead of easing tension, it can rather deepen the conflict and is therefore an irresponsible act. Using UN WebTV for live broadcast is a waste of UN resources,” he said.

All 15 council members must agree to the United Nations broadcasting such informal discussions online, and diplomats said it is rare for a broadcast to be blocked. Despite China’s move, Friday’s meeting was still public and attended by the media.

Thomas-Greenfield said North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs are inextricably linked to the regime’s human rights abuses.

“The pursuit of weapons of mass destruction always overrides people’s human rights and humanitarian needs,” he said. “(North Korean leader) Kim Jong-un has chosen ammunition over food, missiles over humanity.”

North Korea did not participate in the meeting. Its mission at the United Nations did not respond to a request for comment.

Pyongyang denies the accusations of human rights violations and blames the sanctions for the difficult humanitarian situation in North Korea. The country has been under UN sanctions over its ballistic missile and nuclear programs since 2006.

– The West’s pretended hypocritical concern for human rights in North Korea is not fooling anyone, Russian diplomat Stepan Kuzmenkov said at the meeting. “Everybody knows very well that the United States uses human rights to make deals with governments that are not to their liking.”

The UN Security Council is likely to hold a formal meeting on Monday, diplomats said, regarding North Korea’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile on Thursday.

Report by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Richard Chang

Our standard: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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