North Korea has called on the United States to stop its “anachronistic human rights racket” as talks continue between the two countries, AP reports.

The US House of Representatives recently promised that “complete, verifiable, and irreversible human rights improvements” in North Korea were a necessary part of any deal, while a report by the US State Department highlighted North Korea as one of worst countries for human trafficking.

In response, North Korea’s government-run Uriminzokkiri website stated: “When you are calling for deep talks to establish new relations and establish permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula, but at the same time denying the dignity and legitimacy of your counterpart, that’s like trying to move forward with your feet tied together.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, in an undated photo.

US President Donald Trump had been criticised in the wake of his historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un last month for failing to bring up the country’s appalling human rights record.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) recently reported that “every one of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ 30 articles is denied or violated in North Korea – in particular freedom of religion or belief”.

“If you identify as a Christian in North Korea, you are risking a death sentence,” CSW said. “Christians worshipping in secret risk certain incarceration in a prison camp, and possible execution.”

According to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, “Christians are heavily persecuted and receive especially harsh treatment in prison camps; prisoners are tortured and killed … for participating in Christian meetings, reading the Bible, or encountering Christianity outside North Korea; and Christians or those suspected of being Christians are incarcerated in specific zones within the prison camp at which prisoners were subjected to more severe deprivation.”

Of the approximately 300,000 Christians in the country, almost a quarter of them (70,000) are being held in prisons and labour camps, where they face “unimaginable torture, inhumane and degrading treatment purely because of their faith”, according to Zoe Smith, Head of Advocacy at Christian charity Open Doors UK & Ireland.