North Korea's Kim stresses roles of city, county leaders -KCNA

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un speaks during the first short course for chief secretaries of the city and county Party committees in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this undated photo released on March 4, 2021, by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). KCNA/via REUTERS

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stressed the significance of the role that city and county chief secretaries have in improving the lives of the people and carrying out his five-year economic policies, state news media KCNA said on Thursday.

North Korea's drastic measures to contain COVID-19 have exacerbated human rights abuses and economic hardship, including reports of starvation, for its citizens, already battered by international sanctions, a United Nations investigator said.

Kim said the city and county chief secretaries had responsibility for taking care of their residents and urged them to embark on a fresh "turning point" to help develop their areas in line with his new five-year strategy unveiled at the January party congress.

"Now everything depends on the strenuous efforts and role of the chief secretaries," Kim said in a statement carried by KCNA.

North Korea's Supreme People's Assembly (SPA) separately held a plenary meeting on Wednesday where it passed laws including social security and the disinfection of imports, designed to protect people's health, KCNA said.

North Korea has not reported any confirmed coronavirus cases, but has imposed crippling border closings, banned most international travel and severely restricted movement inside the country.

(Reporting by Sangmi Cha; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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