Freeland: Diplomatic solution to North Korea nuclear crisis is 'essential and possible'
Countries in East Asia see Canada as 'important voice' on the issue, foreign affairs minister says
A diplomatic solution to the North Korea nuclear crisis is both "essential and possible" and countries in the region see Canada as having an "important voice" on the issue, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Monday.
Speaking before the Toronto Global Forum, Freeland said North Korea's ballistic missile and nuclear tests are "hugely concerning."
"It's one [issue] that has particular relevance to Canada given the missile threat that North Korea is posing and given our geography," Freeland said.
Depending on the target, a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile targetting at the U.S. could pass over Canadian territory, or could target Canada itself.
"We, as Canada, very much believe a diplomatic solution is essential and possible," said Freeland. "It's something that we've been particularly focused on and where the countries in the region really see Canada as having an important voice."
In separate calls last week, Freeland spoke to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Japan's Foreign Mminister Tara Kono, and South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha about "possible paths forward" on the issue.
"I think it is very important to be sure South Korea is part of the dialogue and part of the conversation… because they are the ones very much facing the most immediate possible jeopardy," said Freeland.
Earlier this month, U.S. President Donald Trump said Tillerson was "wasting his time" negotiating with "Little Rocket Man," an apparent reference to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man...—@realDonaldTrump
...Save your energy Rex, we'll do what has to be done!—@realDonaldTrump
A couple of weeks later, Tillerson downplayed Trump's tweet in an interview with CNN's State of the Union, saying that the president had instructed him to continue diplomatic efforts and that those efforts would "continue until the first bomb drops."
North Korea's missile program has been relatively quiet in recent weeks with the last test conducted mid-September when it fired a missile over Japan. In all, the reclusive nation has conducted 15 missile tests in 2017.
On Sept. 3, North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date, detonating a nuclear bomb underground.
In response, the United Nations Security Council slapped fresh sanctions on North Korea, limiting oil and gas imports and banning textile exports.