BEIJING, June 22 (UPI) — U.S., South Korean and Japanese envoys strongly condemned North Korea provocations during a dialogue among the six-party talks member states in Beijing, where North Korea suggested the talks are no longer meaningful.
The firing of Pyongyang’s Musudan missiles overshadowed the 26th Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue, South Korean newspaper Hankyoreh reported.
North Korea’s delegate Choe Son Hui was in attendance at the meeting, a rare move for Pyongyang.
This is the first time North Korea sent delegates since 2012, when the 23rd meeting of the NEACD was held in Dalian, China.
During the talks, North Korea defended its nuclear program.
Pyongyang will never give up its weapons of mass destruction unless the “entire world abandons nuclear weapons,” the North Korean delegation said, according to the Hankyoreh.
The North Korean delegate, presumably Choe, also said the “six-party talks are dead” during the closed-door meeting.
In a separate meeting among the U.S., South Korean and Japanese delegates, the three sides equally condemned North Korea’s latest provocations.
North Korea did not bring up the Musudan missile launches during the dialogue.
Seoul had said early Wednesday Pyongyang had fired two rockets. The first missile exploded in midair while the second projectile traveled for several hundred miles, according to local press reports.
North Korea’s continued provocations have placed its neighbors on alert, but its human rights record is drawing renewed scrutiny.
A group of nongovernmental organizations that have drawn attention to North Korea rights abuses recently delivered a letter to Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Tom Malinowski.
The activists requested North Korean officials under Kim Jong Un who are responsible for propaganda and Kim idolization be placed on a U.S. sanctions list, South Korean newspaper Donga Ilbo reported.
One of the identified officials is Kim Yo Jong, the North Korean leader’s sister, who is most likely one of the top people in charge of state media that champions her brother’s regime.