U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis are in Vancouver, British Columbia, Tuesday, to discuss North Korea with more than a dozen U.S. allies.
The State Department’s director of policy planning, Brian Hook, told CNN that past and future actions regarding North Korea are on the agenda. Specifically, discussions will focus on international sanctions against the regime.
“We are going to be at this Vancouver ministerial doing an assessment of progress to date.
“We’ll be discussing sanctions — the sanctions that we have done multilaterally and unilaterally to date — and their effectiveness, and what we can be doing in the coming year.”
Although China is not scheduled to be at the table for the Vancouver summit, Hook said the country will receive a briefing on the proceedings. He told CNN that communications have continued with China and Russia leading up to the talks.
Discussions will include how to stop the smuggling of goods on marine vessels, which are happening in violation of the UN sanctions against North Korea.
Meanwhile, ahead of his participation in the Vancouver talks, U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told The Guardian that he supported Rex Tillerson’s approach of developing an “international consensus” on the North Korea issue. Johnson affirmed his view that the role of China is crucial to curbing the North Korean nuclear threat.
“In the end, the people who can really solve the problem are the Chinese.”
A report from Canada’s Globe and Mail said that officials from both China and Russia had dismissed the Vancouver summit as an attempt to isolate the North Korean regime instead of opening up a dialogue with the country’s leader. The Globe quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as calling the meeting “destructive.”
A CBC report identified the countries attending the summit as the same that fought the Korean War in the 1950s. In addition to the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, Japan, and South Korea are among those countries represented.
The meeting comes several months after President Trump had a public difference of opinion with Tillerson over the issue of North Korea. As The New York Times reported, Trump tweeted that Tillerson was “wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man.”
Tensions with North Korea have heightened fears of a hot war with the rogue state. Over the weekend, a mistaken ballistic missile alert was sent to residents of Hawaii, only to be declared a false alarm about a half hour later. According to CNN, President Trump was golfing at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, at the time.