Blinken vows to ensure support for U.S. envoy for N. Korean human rights

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledged Wednesday to ensure his top envoy for North Korean human rights has what she needs for her mission amid claims of insufficient internal support for the diplomat. Blinken made the remarks during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing as Rep. Young Kim (R-CA) pointed out concerns among "outside stakeholders" that Ambassador Julie Turner relies on staff from other offices to carry out her work. "In fact, I think as we speak, Special Envoy Turner is right now in South Korea, working on this critical portfolio, and yes, I'm going to make sure that she continues to have the resources and the support that she needs," the secretary said. Turner is currently in Seoul to meet South Korean officials, civil society members and North Korean escapees, and to attend the Asian Leadership Conference hosted by the Chosun Ilbo, a local daily newspaper. Rep. Kim stressed that she is "concerned" that Turner's office has not been given the "proper" attention by the State Depart ment leadership. Blinken reiterated that he would ensure Turner has the tools required for her work. "But of course, it would help if we got our budget passed, and we were able to actually resource the department, including with the staff," he said. Turner, a career diplomat of Korean descent, was sworn in for the special envoy post in October following her Senate confirmation in July.