South Korea says talks with North Korea a 'significant first step'

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — 9:40 a.m.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha says its talks with North Korea are a "significant first step toward restoring inter-Korean relations."

But Kang says that despite the overtures, North Korea has yet to show any intention to fulfill its obligations on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Kang told a meeting of U.S. allies in Vancouver that as long as North Korea continues down its current path, sanctions will remain in place.

North and South Korea recently started talks, the first in two years, and the North agreed to take part in the Winter Olympics hosted by the South.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono voiced skepticism about North Korea's intentions.

He said the North "wants to buy some time to continue their nuclear and missile programs."

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9:30 a.m.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is calling for nations to improve maritime interdiction of ships conducting illicit trade with North Korea.

Tillerson is meeting in Vancouver with 19 nations that fought on America's side in the Korean War to intensify the "maximum pressure" campaign on the North and combat sanctions evasion.

He says the gathering of like-minded nations sends Kim Jong Un a unified message: "We will not accept a nuclear-armed North Korea."

He is especially urging China and Russia, which are not invited to the meeting to fully implement U.N. sanctions.

Tillerson also highlighted in his opening remarks Tuesday North Korean missile tests pose a threat to civilian air traffic.

He says the pressure campaign will continue until North Korea takes decisive steps to give up its nukes.

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12 a.m.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson huddles Tuesday with nations that fought on America's side in the Korean War, looking to increase economic pressure on North Korea over its nuclear weapons even as hopes rise for diplomacy.

The 20-nation gathering in Vancouver comes days after a mistaken missile alert caused panic on Hawaii, a stark reminder of the fears of conflict with the North.

The meeting is hosted by Tillerson and his Canadian counterpart, Chrystia Freeland.

It was called before the recent start of talks between North and South Korea, the first in two years. President Donald Trump has also signaled openness to talks under the right circumstances.

Officials will discuss sanctions, preventing the spread of weapons by North Korea, and diplomatic options.