US backs call to probe N. Korea rights abuses

The United States backs a UN call for an international probe into the "deplorable" human rights situation in North Korea, the State Department said Thursday.

"The United States remains deeply concerned about the human rights situation" in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

Washington, she added, would support an "inquiry into the DPRK's human rights violations at the UN Human Rights Council's upcoming session."

UN human rights chief Navi Pillay last month called for a probe into the situation of what she said was a "beleaguered, subjugated population of 20 million people."

Pillay said there had been hopes that the change of leadership in the single-party state after the death of Kim Jong-Il could usher in some changes.

"But a year after Kim Jong-Un became the country's new supreme leader, we see almost no sign of improvement," she said.

North Korea prison camps were believed to hold at least 200,000 people and after meeting some survivors, Pillay described their stories as "harrowing."

The US was working actively with global organizations "to seek redress with regard to the deplorable human rights conditions in the DPRK," Nuland added.