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Rice Has Confidence in US Rights Envoy

Posted February. 18, 2006 02:59,   


Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said U.S. Human Rights Envoy to North Korea Jay Lefkowitz will do a more active job in her testimony at a U.S. House of Representatives hearing on February 15. Rice also said that she had confidence in the special envoy.

Observers interpreted Rice’s remarks as a move by the U.S. State Department to give more weight to Lefkowitz, who has been underutilized since his appointment to the envoy post last year. The envoy has not made an official appearance since the Seoul summit for promoting human rights in North Korea in December 2005.

He is expected to attend a third convention for promoting human rights in North Korea in Brussels later in March or in early April. The Freedom House, sponsored by the U.S. State Department, said, “Lefkowitz is planning to urge the South Korean government to vote for a North Korea human rights resolution at the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights commission after the Brussels conference.”

On the same day, Rice said, “The department is reviewing refugee policy regarding North Korean defectors and is working on a possible assistance program in association with the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

Meanwhile, Rice spoke on the subject of a possible visa waiver for Korea, saying, “For Korea to join the US visa waiver program, its visa rejection rate should be under a certain level, and Korea is nearing that mark” before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on International Relations on February 16

Seung-Ryun Kim srkim@donga.com