January 9, 2019 1:54 pm

Meeting between Canada and North Korea not a sign of change in relations, officials say

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said on Tuesday that his resolve for complete denuclearisation remains unchanged but he may have to seek a “new path” if the United States continues to demand unilateral action from North Korea.

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Canadian officials hosted a September meeting with a delegation from North Korea last year.

But Global Affairs Canada says that shouldn’t be viewed as a change in position by the Canadian government.

READ MORE: North Korea says it won’t give up its nuclear weapons unless the U.S. removes its threat first

“These meetings were a key opportunity for Canada to deliver a firm message on the need for denuclearization and human rights on the Korean Peninsula,” said Guillaume Bérubé, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada.

“These meetings do not represent a change in the status of Canada’s diplomatic relations with North Korea. We continue to urge North Korea to take concrete actions towards its stated intention to denuclearize.”

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Global News has confirmed a report of the meetings first published by CBC News.

That initial report said the meetings saw a five-member delegation of North Korean officials arrive in Canada for talks that stressed the need for the Hermit Kingdom to follow through on assurances that it will pursue denuclearization.

During a June 2018 meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, the two leaders agreed to work toward “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

READ MORE: Will North Korea open up to the world in 2019, or renew its threats of nuclear war?

But in December 2018, North Korean state media aired a statement saying the country would not give up its nuclear weapons unless the “U.S. nuclear threat” is also eliminated.

Shortly after, Kim gave a New Year’s Day address in which he appeared to offer up a moratorium on the future development of nuclear weapons and warned about a lack of diplomatic progress on lifting the heavy international sanctions placed on the regime for its nuclear program.

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Bérubé said Canada remains committed to finding a diplomatic solution to the tensions.

“While the recent and ongoing dialogue between the Koreas are encouraging, we remain concerned by the lack of concrete actions by North Korea towards denuclearization. In Canada’s view, North Korea must demonstrate its willingness to follow through on its announced intentions to denuclearize,” he said.

“Canada is gravely concerned by North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, which pose a real and growing threat to both regional and international peace and security. We are committed to peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and believe that a diplomatic solution to the North Korea crisis is essential and possible. ”

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North Korea and South Korea never officially proclaimed an end to the Korean War and remain in a state of tension with a militarized border between them.

While they have agreed to reconciliation measures such as dismantling some guard posts between them, the presence of U.S. nuclear submarines and bomber aircraft around the Korean Peninsula remains a major concern for Kim.

Reports over recent years have suggested Kim fears he could end up like former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi if he denuclearizes first.

Gaddafi agreed to denuclearize Libya in 2003. He was ousted and murdered in 2011.

But while Trump has threatened on Twitter that Kim could meet a similar end if he doesn’t bow to American demands, the two events were not actually related.

Gaddafi was killed by Libyan rebels, not a foreign military, and such an action by a foreign country would be considered a war crime.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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