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SEOUL, May 26 (Yonhap) — A Korean-American congresswoman renewed calls Wednesday for U.S. President Joe Biden to appoint a special envoy on North Korean human rights, saying the rights issue would offer “good leverage” against a recalcitrant Pyongyang.

Rep. Young Kim of the Republican Party made the remarks, voicing concerns that the upper echelons of South Korea’s Moon Jae-in administration views the human rights issue as “destabilizing” to inter-Korean relations.

“After this summit, I have yet to see President Biden working seriously to appoint a special envoy on the North Korean human rights. I think that would be a good step in the right direction,” she said during a forum co-hosted by the East Asia Foundation and the Atlantic Council.

“I would like to see more progress on the human rights issue. That is a good leverage that we have in terms of keeping pressure on North Korea who we know has no intention of stopping their nuclear ambitions,” she added.

Kim was referring to the first in-person summit between Presidents Moon and Biden in Washington last week. After the summit, the leaders issued a joint statement in which they agreed to “work together to improve the human rights situation” in the North.

Accusing the Moon administration of seeking to avoid the rights issue to promote cooperation with Pyongyang, the congresswoman said that Biden will have to apply “some significant pressure” on Seoul to make progress on the North’s human rights issue.

On the human rights issue, Rep. Youn Kun-young of South Korea’s ruling Democratic Party, stressed the need to find a “balance” between efforts to address issues of the North’s human rights and denuclearization given that the two Koreas are still in a state of fragile peace under a cease-fire agreement.

Yonhap News Agency 

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