TOKYO (AP) -- A North Korean parliamentary committee sent a rare letter of protest to the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday over its new package of tougher sanctions.

The sanctions were condemned as a "heinous act against humanity" by the foreign affairs committee of the North's Supreme People's Assembly, according to a state media report.

It was not immediately clear how the protest was conveyed - if it was sent by mail or how it was addressed - since North Korea and the United States have no diplomatic relations and virtually no official channels of communication. The report, carried by the North's Korean Central News Agency, said the letter was sent Friday.

The Republican-led House overwhelmingly voted May 4 to impose the new sanctions, which target North Korea's shipping industry and use of what the bill called "slave labor."

It's not unusual for Pyongyang to condemn Washington's moves to censure it, but direct protests to Congress are exceptionally rare. Pyongyang normally expresses its displeasure with Washington through statements by the Foreign Ministry or other institutions, or through representatives at its United Nations' mission in New York.

Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea expert at Seoul's Dongguk University, said it's not unprecedented for the North to directly contact the U.S. legislature or government. Pyongyang sent letters to the United States in 1984 calling for the opening of three-way talks between Pyongyang, Seoul and Washington.

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