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The Latest: South Korean faulted for citing ‘comfort women’

February 26, 2018

Jordan's Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights addresses his statement, during the opening of the High-Level Segment of the 37th session of the Human Rights Council, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, Feb. 26, 2018. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)

GENEVA (AP) — The Latest on the meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council (all times local):

7:35 p.m.

Japan’s top envoy to the U.N. in Geneva says it was “totally unacceptable” for South Korea’s foreign minister to bring up the issue of wartime “comfort women” at the Human Rights Council.

Before and during World War II, Japan forced many Korean and other women in Asia to work in brothels for the Japanese military in what was known as the “comfort women” system.

Ambassador Junichi Ihara says he took up the matter with his South Korean counterpart after the South Korean minister, Kang Kyung-wha, spoke of recent concerns about sexual violence, particularly in wartime, and said: “We must remember and learn from the past, including the comfort women issue.”

Ihara, speaking at a quickly convened news conference, said terms of a 2015 accord between Japan and South Korea that involved a settlement for “comfort women” included not bringing up the issue at U.N. bodies.

He said South Korea had not done so in the past two years at the council.

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1:15 p.m.

Hungary’s foreign minister has called for the resignation of the United Nations’ human rights chief for referring to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban as one of the “xenophobes and racists” seeking “ethnic, national or racial purity.”

Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said Monday in Geneva that United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein was “unworthy” of his position.

Orban, a staunch opponent of immigration, especially by Muslims, has often said he wants to prevent Hungary from becoming a “mixed society.”

Speaking at a meeting of the U.N.’s Human Rights Council in Geneva, Szijjarto said it was wrong for Zeid to compare Hungary “to the worst dictatorships of the last century.”

Zeid, a Jordanian prince, has said he won’t seek another four-year term when his current one expires in August.

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12:45 p.m.

The U.N. human rights chief has accused the veto-wielding members of the U.N. Security Council of being second only to criminals who kill and maim when it comes to responsibility for some of the world’s most egregious rights violations.

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein delivered one of the strongest denunciations yet from a top U.N. official about improper use of the Security Council veto, which gives extraordinary powers to the five countries that wield it: Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.

Speaking to the U.N. Human Rights Council, he didn’t specify cases when it was used improperly.

Zeid instead spoke more broadly and decried “some of the most prolific slaughterhouses of humans in recent times” in Syria, Congo, Yemen, Burundi and Myanmar.

Zeid, a Jordanian prince, leaves office in August.

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