- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The White House declined an opportunity Tuesday to jump on a United Nations report documenting mass crimes against humanity by the regime in North Korea.

“I don’t have any [response] at this time,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said a full day after the report was released. “Perhaps the State Department does.”

The State Department did indeed express support for the UN’s report Monday and urged North Korea to take concrete steps to improve human rights there. But reporters pressed Mr. Carney about whether the White House had any opinion about the detailed systematic atrocities.

“We are extremely vocal and critical about the appalling conduct of the North Korean regime,” Mr. Carney said. “I don’t have a specific reaction to this report. It should come as no surprise to anyone that the United States and this administration is highly critical of the conduct of human rights in North Korea and the persecution of people in North Korea.”

Mr. Obama has repeatedly criticized the regime in Pyongyang and called for its leadership to agree to denuclearization talks, to little effect. Mr. Carney said the administration’s efforts to persuade China to put pressure on North Korea is “no small thing.”

“We make clear to the Chinese that we believe very strongly that it is in not just the U.S. interests but in the interests of regional security, including in the interests of China, that North Korea take steps to de-escalate some of the provocative behavior that they engage in periodically, and ultimately to get right with the international community…” Mr. Carney said. “And we will continue to work with the Chinese and others to help bring that about.”

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