China heaping scorn on North Korea meeting next week in Vancouver

OTTAWA — China is taking aim at an international summit on North Korea in Vancouver next week, saying the event co-hosted by Canada and the United States is likely to do more harm than good.

The Canadian government is keeping a tight lid on which countries have been invited and plan to attend Tuesday’s meeting, which Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is organizing with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

But a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry revealed Wednesday that his country will not be at the table, even as he criticized the meeting and suggested it will set back — rather than advance — peace efforts.

“It will only create divisions within the international community and harm joint efforts to appropriately resolve the Korean peninsula nuclear issue,” spokesman Lu Kang was quoted as telling reporters in Beijing.

Russia is also expected to be absent along with China, meaning two of North Korea’s most important and influential neighbours will be missing when Freeland and Tillerson sit down with other foreign ministers.

A Japanese foreign ministry official, meanwhile, was quoted by Bloomberg News on Wednesday raising questions about the involvement of countries such as Colombia and Greece, which are peripheral to the North Korea crisis.

Global Affairs Canada spokeswoman Amy Mills said Canada recognizes the essential role that China has to play in any diplomatic efforts involving North Korea, and has “repeatedly engaged” with it about the Vancouver meeting.

But Mills would not say whether China had been invited to the Vancouver meeting and declined to provide a list of countries that had received invitations, saying a list of participating states “will be released in due time.”

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