Noticeably absent from the summit will be representatives from China and Russia. According to U.S. Under Secretary of State Steve Goldstein, Canada and the U.S. jointly agreed to not invite those nations.
Brian Hook, the U.S. State Department’s policy planning staff director, said the U.S. has been “in discussions” with China and Russia leading up to the Vancouver Group and will provide them a “readout” at the summit’s conclusion.
China’s foreign ministry spokesman criticized the summit last week, saying, “It will only create divisions within the international community and harm joint efforts to appropriately resolve the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue,” according to Reuters.
“This is not an alternative to everything that we are doing,” Hook said of the summit, adding that China is “working with us” and “has the same policy goal.”
Just last week, the White House released a statement saying China was “sharply reducing its trade with North Korea” –- an action that supported “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.”
Caught RED HANDED - very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea. There will never be a friendly solution to the North Korea problem if this continues to happen! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 28, 2017
As for the Vancouver Group, Hook said it would focus in part on how to increase pressure on North Korea, especially maritime interdiction to cut off resources and disrupt financing streams. This would include pushing the UN to name ships trading with North Korea to ban them from entering ports.
Tillerson told reporters in December the global pressure campaign “is intended to lead to talks,” but “we can’t talk unless North Korea is ready to talk, and I think, as we’ve indicated, we’re waiting for them to indicate a readiness to talk.”
In a statement about Trump’s call with South Korean President Moon Jae-In last Wednesday, the White House said the president “expressed his openness to holding talks between the United States and North Korea at the appropriate time, under the right circumstances.”
The U.S. has also expressed support for the bilateral discussions between North Korea and South Korea regarding the Winter Olympics.
In a continuation of those conversations this week, the two countries agreed that the North would send a 140-member orchestra, according to the head of South Korea’s delegation Lee Woo-sung.
The two Koreas may even march under a joint “unification flag” during the opening ceremony and field a joint women’s ice hockey team, the Associated Press reported citing a South Korean official.
North and South Korea will meet with the International Olympic Committee in Switzerland on Saturday.
ABC News' Conor Finnegan in Washington, DC and Hakyung Kate Lee in Seoul contributed to this report.