In the weeks leading up to a meeting of foreign ministers this month in Vancouver that discussed ways to rein in North Korea, China exerted strong pressure on some countries involved not to attend it, diplomatic sources said Saturday.

Starting from the first week of January, the Chinese Foreign Ministry summoned embassy officials of all 20 countries invited to the meeting, including Japan, South Korea and the United States, and lodged a protest separately, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

China, which was excluded from the meeting, told the officials that it would only drive a wedge among the international community and criticized it as running counter to the world's joint efforts to settle the North Korean nuclear issue peacefully, the sources said.