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Vancouver Talks Focus on Pressuring North Korea


South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Kyung-wha, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland attend the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula in Vancouver,

Foreign ministers from 20 nations meeting in Vancouver in regard to North Korea say sanctions pressure must continue against the country until it abandons its nuclear weapons program.

Tuesday's ministerial talks in Canada come just days after a mistaken missile alert sparked panic in Hawaii, a sharp reminder of the fears over North Korea's nuclear aggression.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the gathering of like-minded nations sends North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a unified message: "We will not accept a nuclear-armed North Korea."

The top U.S. diplomat urged China and Russia, which were not invited, to fully implement United Nations sanctions against North Korea.

"Additionally, we must increase the costs of the regime's behavior to the point that North Korea must come to the table for credible negotiations," Tillerson said during the opening of the talks.

He added that North Korea's missile tests pose a real threat to civilian air traffic, citing an example that lives of an estimated 152,110 people on 716 international flights could have been put in danger by North Korea's most recent missile launch back on November 28 of last year.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks with Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland during the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Jan. 16, 2018.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks with Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland during the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Jan. 16, 2018.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland told those gathering in Vancouver that nations must improve the effectiveness of existing sanctions.

State Department Policy Planning Director Brian Hook said ahead of the meeting that leaders want to show that diplomatic paths to resolve the situation are available, while another official said there will be no talk of military options.

North Korea has defied U.N. calls to refrain from nuclear and ballistic missile tests. November test of an intercontinental ballistic missile spiked tensions and sparked a war of words between U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un.

Those tensions have eased somewhat in recent weeks, and representatives from North Korea and South Korea held their first formal talks in two years.

Chinese state media reported Tuesday that President Xi Jinping told Trump in a phone call there must be efforts to maintain that momentum.

Those attending the Vancouver talks include those nations that supported South Korea in the 1950-53 Korean War, as well as Japan and South Korea itself.

Stephen Noerper, senior policy director at the New York-based Korea Society, said it would be good if China and Russia were involved, but that those nations have sidestepped the sanctions against North Korea.

"It's China and Russia who would be the biggest violators in terms of what we've seen by way of transfers at sea of oils involving North Korean ships, and there have also been reports of Russia offloading coal, turning off its beacons and then going into North Korea," Noerper told VOA.

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