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North Korea

China rejects Vancouver talks on North Korea crisis as illegitimate

Beijing says 20-nation gathering unrepresentative because it excludes two of the main players

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 January, 2018, 10:29pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 January, 2018, 10:49pm

China has dismissed a 20-nation meeting in Vancouver on the North Korea nuclear crisis as “illegitimate” because representatives from Beijing were not invited.

The two days of talks sponsored by Canada and the United States involve diplomats from South Korea’s allies during the 1950-1953 Korean war, including Australia, Britain, France and Japan.

Senior US State Department official Steven Goldstein said last week that Russia and China, which supported North Korea in the war, were not invited but would be briefed about the meeting.

The meeting was called to discuss ways to raise pressure on Pyongyang to stop production of nuclear missiles that could hit the US and to ensure implementation of new United Nations sanctions against the North Korean administration.

But Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Tuesday that the gathering was not representative because it excluded the two nations with the closest economic and diplomatic ties to Pyongyang.

“China was against the talks from the very beginning,” Lu said.

When the meeting was announced in December, the ministry said China welcomed efforts to address the nuclear crisis through political and diplomatic dialogue but not one mired in a “cold war” mindset of conflict and pressure.

China and Russia’s absence looms over Canada meeting on how to pressure North Korea

Tensions have risen with a flurry of North Korean nuclear and missile tests in recent months.

Nerves were rattled in Hawaii on the weekend when authorities issued a false warning of an incoming ballistic missile. In addition, US President Donald Trump has traded barbs with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un over who has the bigger nuclear launch button on his desk.

Sun Xingjie, a Korean affairs expert at Jilin University, questioned whether the 20-nation meeting could contribute much to resolving the crisis since China, a long-standing North Korean ally, had stepped up punishment of Pyongyang.

In early January, China’s Ministry of Commerce announced new limits on supplies of critically important oil, refined oil products, steel and other metals to North Korea, after the UN Security Council unanimously approved new punitive measures on Pyongyang for an intercontinental ballistic missile test on November 29.

China, Russia must help resolve North Korea crisis, Canada’s President Trudeau says

From December 23, the new restrictions limit North Korea to 4 million barrels of crude oil annually. The cap on refined petroleum exports to North Korea is 500,000 barrels a year.

In a phone call to Trump on Tuesday, Xi “pointed out that the situation on the Korean peninsula has shown some positive changes”, state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

“All sides concerned should make joint efforts to keep up the hard-won momentum for the easing of the situation on the Korean peninsula and create conditions to restart talks,” he was quoted as saying.

“The two countries should adopt constructive means to properly settle economic and trade issues of mutual concern through opening up markets to each other and making the cake of cooperation bigger.”

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse