World Bulletin / News Desk
Canada and its allies will convene next week in Vancouver to discuss ways of bringing North Korea to slow its nuclear program, Canadian media reported Thursday.
New measures could include the interception of vessels suspected of carrying goods into the country against United Nations imposed sanctions.
The meeting, co-hosted by the U.S., has an invitation list that does not include Russian and China. It gets underway Jan. 16.
Only the 17 countries that deployed troops under the United Nations (UN) in the Korean War between 1950 and 1953 are eligible to attend. No list of who will attend was forthcoming from officials.
The goal is to find ways to put the brakes on smuggling and money-laundering tactics North Korea employs to avoid UN sanctions and fund its nuclear program, as well as to prevent commodities like oil from being delivered to the country.
The measures could include stopping and inspecting ships bound for North Korea.
“We will be discussing with our partners and allies the kinds of steps that we can take on maritime interdiction and to be disrupting funding and disrupting resources,” Brian Hook, U.S. State Department director of policy planning, told reporters at a briefing Thursday in Washington. “And maritime interdiction helps us to disrupt resources and then the financial side helps us to disrupt the financing of their nuclear and missile program.”
It would be, in effect, an embargo on shipping. Western governments have accused both Russia and China of exporting oil into North Korea, against UN sanctions. Both countries have denied the charges.
If a naval embargo is instituted, Canadian and American warships, along with other vessels, would be moved into the area.
It could put Canada, the U.S. and its allies in the bad graces of China.
China has opposed the Vancouver conference and said it would hurt, not help, steps to get North Korea to stop its nuclear program.
“All parties should work to defuse tensions and promote dialogue, rather than blindly resort to pressure and isolation,” Chinese foreign minister Lu Kang said in a statement released by the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa.
But Hook said America has kept China informed on enforcing sanctions and added that both it and Russia would be briefed after the Vancouver conference.
He also said China has the same goal as the allies.
“China has the same policy goal, in terms of ensuring that North Korea does not become a nuclear weapon state and acquire the means to deliver a nuclear warhead,” Hook said.
President Donald Trump repeated his call, meanwhile, for arming some of America's teachers and claimed the controversial proposal was increasingly drawing support.
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