Wednesday, February 13, 2008

U.S. Eases Sanctions on North Korea in 2007

North Korean Leader Kim Jong-il

From the Korea Times:

The United States eased some of its sanctions on North Korea last year, according to a U.S. government broadcaster Tuesday.

The Voice of America (VOA) said that U.S. President George W. Bush approved the lifting of some sanctions imposed on Pyongyang under an act governing human trafficking in mid-October, 2007. Washington notified the North of the decision.

The State Department designated North Korea as one of the worst states involved in human trafficking, and the act prevented the United States from offering any aid except humanitarian assistance.
But the easing allowed Washington to provide assistance in educational and cultural exchanges to the extent that the aid doesn't damage its national interest.

This is the first time for the United States to lift any sanctions on North Korea since the communist country first appeared on its blacklist for human trafficking in 2003.
An official of the State Department said the rare measure came in order to improve ties and expand exchange with North Korea. ``Though Washington wants to expand exchanges in various fields with Pyongyang, in reality, all the efforts are affected by the results of the six-party talks,'' the official said on condition of anonymity. ``The lifting of sanctions indicates the U.S. intention to open its doors for more exchanges and better relations with North Korea.''

In a report on human trafficking in 2007, the State Department said prostitution and forced labor often take place in North Korea and human trafficking of female North Korean defectors also exists in China. The department classified North Korea as the third-worst nation in the world in terms of human trafficking because Pyongyang hasn't made any effort to improve the situation.

Meanwhile, Vitit Muntarbhorn, the U.N. special rapporteur said last month that North Korea has shown no improvement in its human rights record including human trafficking and still systematically tortures its citizens.
Muntarbhorn condemned North Korea's practice of public executions, inhumane prison conditions, and oppression of dissidents.

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