Published: Wed, January 17, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

U.S. open to talks, but North Korea not "credible": Tillerson

The meeting-co-hosted by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his Canadian counterpart, Chrystia Freeland, comes after South Korea seized a Hong Kong-flagged ship late a year ago suspected of illegally transferring oil to North Korean ships at sea.

Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and her US counterpart, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, are co-hosting the one-day gathering.

The U.S., meanwhile, called on nations to crack down on ships supplying North Korea with oil via transfers in worldwide waters, taking advantage of a loophole in sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council.

Asked whether Americans should be anxious about war with North Korea, Tillerson said the North has made "significant advances" in its nuclear weapons program and intercontinental ballistic missile systems, but "I think we all need to be very sober and clear-eyed about the current situation".

"The most important relevant parties of the Korean peninsula issue haven't taken part in the meeting so I don't think the meeting is legal or representative", Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a regular briefing.

Depriving Kim Jong Un's regime will be a significant step forward in forcing Pyongyang to abandon the ballistic nuclear missile program and achieve the efforts by Washington to denuclearize the entire Korean peninsula.

But while Canada and the US have welcomed the Korean discussions, American officials have said they won't change the agenda of the Vancouver meeting or consider a short-term easing of sanctions.

Pyongyang and Seoul held their first official talks in more than two years last week, agreeing on the participation of North Korean athletes in the South Korean Olympics.

Japan's foreign minister Taro Kono also urged caution towards what he described as Pyongyang's recent "charm offensive". China and Russian Federation fought on the communist side in the war and neither was invited. The meeting convened days after a mistaken missile alert caused panic on Hawaii, a stark reminder of the fears of conflict with the North. "Canada is really prepared to do everything we can to work toward a peaceful diplomatic solution, ' Freeland said ahead of the meeting".

Tillerson was speaking to reporters on Tuesday after the meeting in Vancouver, co-hosted by the United States and Canada.

"To the contrary, North Korea adheres to its stated claim of having completed its state nuclear force", she said. Tillerson called on nations to "strengthen global maritime interdiction operations to foil illicit ship to ship transfers".

The talks were sparked by the upcoming Winter Olympics, which will take place in South Korea.

He also said that the U.S. does not want a nuclear-armed North Korea, adding there is no difference between Washington and Seoul in their approach to dealing with the reclusive state.

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