Busy North Korean restaurant in China turning away South Koreans

Imports from the North shrank 81.6 percent to $54 million in December, while exports to Pyongyang contracted by 23.4 percent to $260 million, AP said, citing a spokesman for the Chinese customs agency, Huang Songping. All told, trade between the two sides fell nearly 51 percent during the month.

While several key powers, including China and Japan, are reportedly not attending the meeting, the State Department said Thursday that the event will "bring together national from across the globe".

The United States has welcomed news of China's drop in trade with North Korea, saying it will help put pressure on Kim Jong-un's regime.

In 2017 as a whole, China's overall trade with North Korea declined by more than 10 percent to about $5 billion, as U.S. President Donald Trump secured Beijing's backing for four escalating rounds of sanctions.

While the USA may see that as a positive development, China posted a trade surplus with the country previous year that climbed 10% to a record $275.8B.

Responding to such concerns on Thursday, Brian Hook, the director of policy planning within the U.S. State Department, said the meeting is focused on United Nations sending states only, but key regional players like neighbours China and Russian Federation are being kept apprised.

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The Canadian government has organized a meeting in Vancouver on January 16 for various countries to come up with an worldwide response to North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile program. The latest round passed last month.

"This action supports the United States-led global effort to apply maximum pressure until the North Korean regime ends its illicit programs, changes its behavior, and moves toward denuclearization of the Korean peninsula", it said in a statement.

Behind the scenes, organizers insist recent developments - like North Korea's decision to send athletes to the Olympics, or initiate military talks with South Korea - won't alter the agenda of next week's discussions.

Washington plans to use Tuesday's meeting to discuss the idea of stopping and inspecting suspect ships bound for North Korea, a senior official said.

Vice President Mike Pence will lead the official U.S. delegation.

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