- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 11, 2018

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will head to Canada next week to co-host a meeting of high-level international diplomats focused on expressing solidarity against North Korea’s ongoing nuclear weapons and ballistic missile provocations.

While several key powers, including China and Japan, are reportedly not attending the meeting, the State Department said Thursday that the event will “bring together national from across the globe.”

The meeting comes after a flurry of diplomacy between North and South Korean and fresh openness from President Trump to the prospect of talks with Pyongyang, although U.S. officials emphasized Thursday that North Korea’s provocations cannot be tolerated by the international community.

The State Department said next week’s meeting will begin Monday in Vancouver and “focus on advancing and strengthening diplomatic efforts toward a secure, prosperous and denuclearized Korean peninsula.”

“The meeting will bring together nations from across the globe to demonstrate international solidarity against North Korea’s dangerous and illegal nuclear and ballistic missile programs,” the department said in a statement Thursday.

Mr. Tillerson is slated to co-host with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland. Defense Secretary James Mattis will participate in a welcome dinner for the meetings on January 15.

But it was not immediately clear Thursday who else will be on hand. Several news reports have indicated that China will not be attending. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang has said the event will not be helpful in reducing tensions on the Korean peninsula because key regional powers won’t be there.

Japan has also reportedly criticized the meeting. According to Bloomberg News, a Japanese foreign ministry official recently questioned the need for including countries as distant as Colombia and Greece.

Mr. Trump, meanwhile, told South Korean President Moon Jae-in in a phone call this week that he is open to talking with North Korea. According to a statement by Mr. Moon’s office. Mr. Trump also said there would be no military action while talks are ongoing, the statement said.

The statement came after North and South Korean officials held their first direct talks in two years on Tuesday — after which North Korea announced that it would send a delegation to the Winter Olympics in South Korea next month.

Mr. Trump has said Vice President Mike Pence will lead a U.S. delegation to the games.

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