A few weeks ago, after Jay Lefkowitz, the Special Envoy for Human Rights in North Korea, cancelled a visit to Kaesong, I speculated that the North Koreans felt free to just blow him off: “One wonders whether the North Koreans, sensing how completely Lefkowitz has been marginalized in Washington, simply withdrew his permission to visit.” And that turns about to be pretty much what happened:
“We understand the North has refused to register the application by the special envoy,” South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Ho-nyeon said. [….]
Lefkowitz will be in South Korea next week and had asked to also visit the factory park. “I understand the North’s explanation is his visit to wouldn’t be appropriate, “Kim said.
North Korea, in its official media, has called Lefkowitz’s views “impudent,” “rubbish” and “foolish.”
Bush andmet on Wednesday and said Pyongyang should improve its human rights record, described by groups as being among the world’s worst.
The rejection of Lefkowitz’s request comes amid signs of improving relations between Washington and Pyongyang. The two foes have drawn closer as they have worked to implement a six-country deal on ending the North’s nuclear arms program. [Reuters]