The United States has blocked a British-sponsored meeting on North Korea’s human rights abuses

The United States has blocked a British-sponsored meeting on North Korea’s human rights abuses in a late effort to prevent a breakdown in diplomatic relations with Pyongyang, as the regime shows signs of preparing for a new long-range missile test.

US diplomats withdrew their support for a proposal by eight other members of the United Nations security council, including Britain, to hold a discussion of North Korea to mark international Human Rights Day. The meeting would certainly have aired the many criticisms of the regime, which has been accused by UN investigators of crimes against humanity comparable to those of the Nazis during the Second World War.

Thirty people are still being treated in hospital – some with 90 per cent burns – and three have been treated and released. Pete Watson, New Zealand’s chief medic, said it is possible that ‘not all’ of the wounded will survive. 

In total 47 tourists were on White Island when it erupted, among them: 24 from Australia, nine from the US, five from New Zealand, four from Germany, two from the UK, two from China and one from Malaysia.

The contrast has been repeatedly drawn between Aung San Suu Kyi’s 1991 peace prize win and 15 years spent under house arrest, and her present position as chief denier that any ethnic violence has been perpetrated against the Rohingya. Last year, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum revoked her Elie Wiesel award.

She will not address what is known as the ”world court” until Wednesday morning, when she is expected to argue that the military operations in question were a legitimate counter-terrorism response to attacks by Rohingya militants.

The investigation began in July 2016 after the FBI learned that another ex-Trump campaign staffer, George Papadopoulos, had been claiming Russia had dirt on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in the form of stolen emails. Those emails, which had been hacked from Democratic email accounts by Russian intelligence agents, were released by Wikileaks in the weeks before the election in what US officials say was an attempt to harm Clinton and help Trump.

William Barr, the attorney general and a loyal ally of Trump, has started a separate investigation into the origins of the Russia probe, headed by prosecutor John Durham. Barr himself rejected the inspector general’s conclusion that there was sufficient evidence to open the investigation.

“I had to do it for the sake of society,” he said, according to the newspaper report.

He spoke about his potential court sentence, suggesting at one point he would like to avoid execution and at another time that he would prefer the death penalty.