Chinese President Xi Jinping urged US. President Donald Trump to exercise restraint over North Korea and said he opposed any action that would violate United Nations Security Council resolutions, Chinese state media has reported.
The two leaders spoke by phone amid escalating tensions over North Korea’s advancing nuclear and missile programs — their second phone discussion on the issue in the past two weeks following their Florida summit earlier in April.
The conversations came a day before the 85th anniversary of the establishment of the Korean People’s Army, when experts say Pyongyang may launch a sixth nuclear test, amid signs it has been preparing for one. Sunday, it emerged that North Korea had arrested a US citizen in Pyongyang, adding another potential flashpoint with the U.S. at a time of increasingly heated rhetoric.
Mr Trump also spoke with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who said afterward that the American leader “has indicated by his words and actions that all possible options are on the table.”
Mr Xi said all parties should avoid further ratcheting up tensions on the peninsula, state media said, adding that the two pledged to stay in regular touch.
The White House issued short statements about the calls Monday, hours after Chinese and Japanese officials commented. Officials said Mr Trump and Mr Xi discussed North Korea’s “continued belligerence.”
”The two leaders reaffirmed the urgency of the threat posed by North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs and committed to strengthen coordination in achieving the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula,” the White House said.
The White House provided no detail about specific issues discussed with Mr Abe.
Mr Trump and top US officials have threatened to use unspecified military force against North Korea, and a US aircraft carrier finally is en route to the Korean Peninsula after its deployment was announced prematurely by White House and Pentagon officials.
Tensions between the US and North Korea have risen since Mr. Trump indicated he will discard the Obama administration’s policy of “strategic patience” and strike a more aggressive posture toward Pyongyang. The U.S. leader has vowed to take unilateral action to blunt North Korea’s nuclear threat if China doesn’t restrain its ally.
In South Korea last week, US Vice President Mike Pence warned that recent American military strikes in Syria and Afghanistan showed that Pyongyang should refrain from testing American resolve or armed forces in the region.
The US Navy, meanwhile, said Sunday that the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier began conducting exercises with the Japanese navy in the Philippine Sea, messaging a warning to North Korea.
North Korea’s state news agency said “it would be a fatal mistake of the U.S. to think it can browbeat [North Korea] with such nuclear carrier.”
Pyongyang doesn’t appear to be slowing down its programs in response. North Korea also fired another missile April 16, which blew up on takeoff.
Over the weekend, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said there were enough displays of force and confrontation on the issue and called for “peaceful and rational voices,” according to state-controlled news agency Xinhua.
Mr Abe on Monday also appeared concerned over the current security environment.
“The issues of North Korea’s nuclear program and missiles are not only a concern to the international community but also an extremely serious threat to Japan’s security,” he said.
By Te-Ping Chen