United States welcomes reduced China-N.Korea trade

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In a statement, the White House said "the administration is pleased China is sharply reducing its trade with North Korea", and that it "supports the USA -led global effort to apply maximum pressure to end the North's illicit programs, changes its behavior and moves toward denuclearization". Spokesman Lu Kang said on Wednesday the meeting would not help resolve tensions on the Korean peninsula because not all of the main parties would be there.

The countries invited to send representatives to Vancouver are the so-called "Sending Powers", those that contributed troops or aid to the United Nations war effort in 1950s Korea.

The ministers will discuss steps to thwart North Korea's evasion of sanctions, including through maritime interdiction, State Department Director of Policy Planning Brian Hook said in a press briefing. In addition, he suggested that the Security Council should add to the list of vessels that are explicitly banned from global ports for suspected sanctions violations. China and Russian supported the north during that conflict.

Analyst Mark Valencia, a researcher at China's National Institute for South China Sea Studies, warned a year ago that attempts to authorize high-seas interdictions would essentially legalize an act of war - an opposed boarding of another flag state's vessel - and potentially undermine the principle of freedom of navigation. The country explains its opposition by an alleged nuclear threat from the United States.

The statement came after North and South Korean officials held their first direct talks in two years on Tuesday - after which announced that it would send a delegation to the Winter Olympics in South Korea next month. Athletic competitions have traditionally provided a low-stakes venue for conversations between the two countries, which have technically been at war since 1950.

The UN Security Council has steadily tightened prohibitions on buying the North's goods or supplying it with oil in an effort to discourage leader Kim Jong Un's government from pursuing nuclear and missile technology. "I think you people are surprised". Trump would not confirm whether he has spoken with Kim, saying only that he didn't want to comment.

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