White House welcomes China's drop in trade with North Korea past year

North Korea is seen across the Yalu River on the border with China in a file

North Korea is seen across the Yalu River on the border with China in a file

China's trade with North Korea plunged by 50 percent in December as United Nations sanctions tightened, the Beijing government said on Friday.

"We hope that the engagement between the two sides will help in reducing tensions and pave the way for bringing lasting peace and reconciliation in the Korean Peninsula", external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told reporters.

"The meeting will bring together nations from across the globe to demonstrate global solidarity against North Korea's unsafe and illegal nuclear and ballistic missile programs", it said. South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha is expected to be among the attendees, while US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will participate in a welcome dinner Monday.

Japan has also reportedly criticized the meeting.

Analysts see North Korea's need for Chinese oil as the most powerful economic leverage against Pyongyang.

Mr. Tillerson is slated to co-host with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.

The measures could include stopping and inspecting ships bound for North Korea.

"The directive complements Canada's robust sanctions regime already in place against (North Korea) and reinforces Canada's public statements identifying North Korea as a jurisdiction of concern", Sweet said in an email.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau quietly issued the directive last month following concerns that the North Korean government was skirting worldwide sanctions through money laundering and other illicit financial activity.

North Koreans are also genuinely anxious the United States could launch a preventive war on the peninsula.

China on Friday reported a sharp drop in trade with North Korea in 2017.

North Korea agreed to send athletes as part of a delegation to the Games.

He also said China and Russian Federation, which have not been invited, will be briefed on the discussions after the meeting.

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