North Korea calls Vancouver meeting a provocation

GENEVA • North Korea rejects as a "provocation" a US-led meeting in Vancouver that discussed tougher sanctions that Pyongyang will fight, a senior North Korean diplomat told Reuters.

Twenty nations agreed on Tuesday to consider tougher sanctions to press North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned Pyongyang that it could trigger a military response if it did not choose negotiations.

Mr Choe Myong Nam, North Korea's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva, said on Wednesday that the Vancouver meeting was "harmful and dangerous".

"We denounce that meeting in the strongest possible terms, that is really harmful. It will not be conducive to peace and security and to the ongoing process between North and South that is aimed at creating a peaceful environment, easing tensions and promoting reconciliation between the North and the South," he said in an interview.

"We are truly committed and determined to do what we can to fight against sanctions."

Asked about the possibility of a US strike against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Mr Choe said: "We have all the capacity to deter such manoeuvres on the part of the hostile forces. We are ready for dialogue and confrontation. We are ready for both."

But he said that North Korea is also determined to make the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, a success.

"We regard this as an event of the Korean nation, not just of South Korea, (something) which should be jointly and brilliantly demonstrated to the world," he said.

A delegation of North Korean Olympic officials will arrive soon in Switzerland for talks scheduled at the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne tomorrow, Mr Choe added.

North Korea has proposed that the United Nations human rights office send a mission to South Korea to interview North Korean restaurant workers "abducted" in April 2016, as well as their families in North Korea, Mr Choe said.

Asked if the North Korean restaurant workers were an obstacle to family reunions of Koreans separated by the divided peninsula, he said that for family reunions to go ahead, the restaurant workers would need to be repatriated.



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2018, with the headline 'N. Korea calls Vancouver meeting a provocation'. Print Edition | Subscribe