Canada makes $3.25M contribution to U.S. program enforcing sanctions on North Korea

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada will contribute $3.25 million to a U.S. State Department program that will help countries enforce sanctions against the North Korean regime.

Rex Tillerson says North Korea has not shown itself to be a 'credible partner' capable of direct talks

Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland greets U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during the meeting on security and stability on the Korean Peninsula in Vancouver Tuesday. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada will contribute $3.25 million to a U.S. State Department program that will help countries enforce sanctions against the North Korean regime.

Freeland made the announcement, alongside U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, at the closing press conference of a meeting of foreign ministers on North Korea in Vancouver.

The money will be used to help ensure that UN-approved sanctions currently imposed on the North Korean regime are being enforced. 

"There are a lot of countries we have found in the world that have the political will to implement sanctions but lack the technical capacity," said Freeland. "Canada's contributing $3.25 million to a joint effort with the United States to work on that capacity building."

Tillerson said the U.S. would not accept a world in which North Korea is a nuclear power, and until the regime in that country starts dismantling its nuclear program sanctions would remain. Direct talks between the U.S. and North Korea seem a long way off, he said. 

"Productive negotiations require a credible negotiating partner, North Korea has not yet shown themselves to be that credible partner," Tillerson said. 

At the opening of the summit on stability and security in the Korean Peninsula, Freeland warned the regime that its bad behaviour would only cause the North Korean people more distress. 

"Investing in nuclear weapons will lead only to more sanctions and to perpetual instability on the peninsula," Freeland said to a room full of diplomats and reporters in Vancouver.

"The pursuit of nuclearization will bring you neither security nor prosperity," she said.

Welcoming talks

The message was echoed by allies around the room, including Tillerson, who was the co-host of Tuesday's meeting.

"The pressure campaign will continue until North Korea takes decisive steps to denuclearize," Tillerson said.

"This is a strategy that has and will require patience, but thanks to everyone's support at this table, and around the world, the regime is already facing costs that it is having difficulty bearing," he added.

Freeland and Tillerson were among the foreign ministers and diplomats from 20 countries who gathered on Canada's West Coast to discuss paths to diplomacy. 

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stresses the impact of North Korea's missile tests on civilian flights during his opening remarks at the security summit in Vancouver. 1:18

Partners around the table welcomed the recent reopening of talks between North Korea and South Korea, and the North's participation in the upcoming Winter Olympics.

After nearly two years of silence, officials from both countries sat down for 11 hours of discussions earlier this month.

Japan warns against being 'naive'

South Korea's foreign minister described Tuesday's talks as "rather productive and positive."

But Japan's foreign minister said the world would be "naive" to assume Kim Jong-un's regime agreed to open talks with good intentions.

Freeland and Republic of Korea foreign affairs minister Kang Kyung-wha greet each other at the meeting. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

"I am aware that some people argue, that now that North Korea is engaging in inter-Korea dialogue, we should reward them by lifting up sanctions, or by providing some sort of assistance," said Taro Kono

"Frankly, I think this view is just too naive," Kono told delegates.

"I believe that North Korea wants to buy some time to continue their nuclear and missile programs. They simply want to get something out of this dialogue."

Kono suggested North Korea is looking to get sanctions lifted, or receive financial assistance as a possible motive for reopening talks with the South.

"They must be intending to drive a wedge between those tough countries, and those that are not so tough," he added.

Len Edwards, former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and former Ambassador to South Korea, weighs in on the Vancouver meeting on North Korea. 7:40

With files from Peter Zimonjic