Canada’s foreign affairs minister and the envoy who secured the release of an imprisoned Presbyterian minister have both held talks over the last few days with senior North Korean officials about the deteriorating international situation.
Chrystia Freeland said Friday that she met with Ri Yong-ho, her counterpart from Pyongyang, during a meeting of Asian-Pacific foreign ministers last weekend in Manila.
It was not a formal meeting, only a brief exchange on the sidelines.
It was followed by a longer mid-week discussion in the North Korean capital between that country’s foreign ministry officials and the head of the Canadian delegation sent to secure the release of Toronto Presbyterian minister Rev. Hyeon Soo Lim.
Precisely what Daniel Jean said in his capacity as special envoy remains unclear, but Freeland said Canadian officials have been working hard to make sure the regime of Kim Jong-un understands that “it must get off this path which is so destructive for North Korea and for the world.”
The face-to-face meetings came at a time of extraordinary tension between U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration and the regime of Kim Jong-un, which has threatened to launch a missile strike on waters off the U.S. territory of Guam some time this month.
Freeland made it clear Canada is standing firmly beside the United States and the threats were totally unacceptable.
“When they are threatened, we are there,” Freeland said in Edmonton following a meeting related to the upcoming renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“This is clearly a gravely concerning situation.”
She said it was useful for the North Korean foreign minister to hear from his counterparts last weekend how they view the country’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Freeland also met with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, South Korea’s foreign minister and later with China’s top diplomat during a brief trip to Beijing.