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Canberra, Australia: Pyongyang seeking to reopen North Korea embassy Down Under

Australia says North Korea is seeking to reopen its embassy there, with media painting it as a sign that Kim Jong Un wants greater engagement with the world.

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr Enlarge
Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr speaks to reporters in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on December 15, 2012. (LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images)

Australia says North Korea is seeking to reopen its embassy there.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr told Australia's ABC News that he welcomed the request by Pyongyang.

"It would enable us to express our very strong concerns, our deep concerns, about what we see as a catastrophic position on human rights within North Korea... which is probably the most systemic abuse of human rights you could find on the face of the planet."

Carr cited "a gulag of concentration camps" for political opponents of North Korea's ruling regime estimated to contain 200,000 prisoners, where they were subject to "starvation and by execution."

"A North Korean embassy in Canberra would enable us to register our deep and our strong concerns about the human rights crisis in North Korea, which is probably the most systemic abuse of human rights you could find on the face of the planet."

The Fairfax media painted the move as a sign that Kim Jong Un wanted greater engagement with the world.

It also confirmed, via a spokeswoman for Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed, that Canberra had received a request from Pyongyang to re-open its embassy.

The Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK) embassy was abruptly closed in January 2008, with the rogue state citing financial reasons.

Australia, which Australia provides about $5 million a year in humanitarian aid to North Korea and maintains diplomatic relations via its embassy in Seoul, imposed sanctions on the regime of Kim Jong Il in 2006 in response to Pyongyang's attempts to develop atomic weapons.

The DPRK opened an embassy in Canberra in December 1974, with Australia reciprocating in Pyongyang in April 1975.

According to The Australian newspaper, another break in relations between the two countries occurred in In November 1975, when North Korea abruptly withdrew its diplomats and expelled the Australian mission.

Relations resumed in 2000 and the DPRK embassy in Canberra reopening in 2002.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/130116/canberra-australia-pyongyang-seeking-reopen-north-korea-em