Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says Canada will be closely watching any upcoming meetings between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
An invitation was extended by North Korea earlier this week, according to Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary. She added that the president was promised denuclearization.
In a statement given Thursday evening, Sanders said Trump “will accept the invitation to meet with Kim Jong-un at a place and time to be determined.”
It’s a development the international community would have deemed unthinkable a few months ago, as tweets and insults were flying between the two leaders.
But Canada has laid a lot of the groundwork leading up to this point, Freeland told CBC Radio’s The House.
In January, Canada co-hosted a summit in Vancouver to discuss the growing tensions with North Korea.
The gathering of Canada, the U.S., U.K., Australia and 13 other countries placed a heavier focus on sanctions than diplomacy.
Freeland explained there were two objectives she wanted out of the meetings: Showing the world that a diplomatic solution is essential and possible, and communicating to North Korea that the international community is united in their response to nuclear threats.
Meeting ‘directly touches’ Canadian security
While she kept tight-lipped on the specifics of Canada’s involvement in the upcoming meeting, she said it’s important to keep open communication between countries — especially when it comes to North Korea.
“It directly touches the security of Canadians,” Freeland said.
“This is the year that Canada is chairing the G7 and I think that gives us an opportunity and responsibility to play a role here.”
Similar invitations from Pyongyang have been extended to other U.S. presidents, but Trump is the first to accept.
Talks between Washington and Pyongyang have previously been overseen by lower-level experts, and have often bogged down because of details, such as allowing outsiders in to inspect North Korea’s nuclear compliance.