January 31, 2018 / 4:10 PM / 10 months ago

North Korea hits back at U.S., calls Trump administration 'racist'

GENEVA (Reuters) - North Korea struck back at the United States on Wednesday, accusing the Trump administration of being a billionaires’ club that harbours a “policy of racism” while denying freedom of the press and health coverage to citizens.

A stamp issued to celebrate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is seen in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang January 31, 2018. REUTERS/KCNA

The “White Paper on Human Rights Violations in the U.S. in 2017”, was issued by the Institute of International Studies in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and circulated by its diplomatic mission in Geneva.

It did not refer to the row between North Korea and the United States and its allies over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes, or to the international sanctions imposed against it.

U.S. President Donald Trump, in his first State of Union speech to Congress on Tuesday, branded North Korea’s leadership “depraved”. He told Americans that its pursuit of nuclear missiles could “very soon threaten our homeland” and vowed a continued campaign to prevent that.

“Racial discrimination and misanthropy are serious maladies inherent to the social system of the U.S., and they have been aggravated since Trump took office,” the North Korean paper said.

“The racial violence that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12 is a typical example of the acme of the current administration’s policy of racism,” it said.

Trump, who took office a year ago, had filled his cabinet with billionaires, it said, citing U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnunchin and Secretary of Defence James Mattis.

“The total assets of public servants at the level of deputy secretary and above of the current administration are worth $14 billion,” the paper said.

North Korea’s paper said that genuine freedoms of the press and of expression did not exist in the United States and that crackdowns against the media had intensified in the past year.

More people have joined the ranks of the unemployed and the homeless, it said.

The United State is one of few countries that have failed to offer paid maternity leave, and many sick citizens cannot afford to pay their medical fees, it added.

The paper, issued weeks before the main annual session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, said:

“The U.S., ‘guardian of democracy’ and ‘human rights champion’, is kicking up the human rights racket but it can never camouflage its true identity as the gross violator of human rights.”

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Gareth Jones

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