China ignores US warning, welcomes North Korea at Silk Road Forum

by Itunuoluwa Adebo

China welcomes all countries to a forum this weekend on China’s new Silk Road plan, the foreign ministry said Saturday, after the United States warned China that North Korea’s attendance could affect other countries’ participation.

According to Reuters, two sources with knowledge of the situation said the U.S. embassy in Beijing had submitted a diplomatic note to China’s foreign ministry, saying inviting North Korea sent the wrong message at a time when the world was trying to pressure it over its repeated missile and nuclear tests.

The disagreement over North Korea threatens to overshadow China’s most important diplomatic event of the year for an initiative championed by President Xi Jinping. When asked about the U.S. note, the foreign ministry said in a short statement sent to Reuters that it did “not understand the situation”.

“The Belt and Road initiative is an open and inclusive one. We welcome all countries delegations to attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation,” it said. The ministry did not elaborate  but  said on Tuesday North Korea would send a delegation to the summit but gave no other details.

The United States delegation will be led by White House adviser Matt Pottinger. Despite Chinese anger at North Korea’s repeated nuclear and missile tests, China remains the isolated state’s most important economic and diplomatic backer, even as Beijing has signed up for tough U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang.

 

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