N.Korea to Re-Open Embassy in Australia

Posted January 16th, 2013 at 4:50 am (UTC-5)
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Australia says North Korea is planning to re-open its embassy in the nation's capital, five years after closing it for financial reasons.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr on Wednesday said he welcomes the move. He told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation it would allow Australia to express its “very deep concerns” about what he called North Korea's “catastrophic” rights abuses.

Carr did not comment on why the reclusive state made the decision to re-open its embassy in Canberra.

The two countries have had diplomatic relations since 1974, although ties have often been strained. Australia imposed sanctions against North Korea following its steps to develop nuclear weapons.

Australia has been critical of human rights violations in the communist state. On Wednesday, Carr described what he called a “gulag and a network of concentration camps” in North Korea that is estimated to hold 200,000 prisoners in poor conditions.

Observers have looked for signs that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who took power last year following the death of his father, is willing to implement political or economic reforms in the largely isolated country.

In a New Year speech, Mr. Kim promised “great creations and changes” in 2013, saying the building of an economic giant is an important task for his country in the new year.