Chinese leader urges restraint over North Korea in phone call with Trump

President Xi Jingping

Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for restraint when dealing with North Korea during a telephone call with President Donald Trump, Chinese state media has reported amid speculation that Pyongyang could soon carry out a sixth nuclear test.

The official broadcaster CCTV quoted Mr Xi as telling Mr Trump that China strongly opposes North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme, which is in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions, and hopes “all parties will exercise restraint and avoid aggravating the situation” on the Korean Peninsula.

The Trump administration has warned that all options, including a military strike, are on the table to halt North Korea’s ambitions of developing a nuclear-tipped missile that could reach the US mainland.

However, US officials have told the Associated Press that a military response is unlikely. Mr Trump has reportedly settled on a strategy which emphasises increasing pressure on Pyongyang with the help of China. “Only if all sides bear the responsibilities they’re supposed to bear and come together, can the nuclear issue on the peninsula be resolved as quickly as possible,” Mr Xi told Mr Trump, according to CCTV.

The phone call, which took place on Monday morning Beijing time, came as South Korean officials warned there is a chance that the North will conduct a nuclear test or a maiden intercontinental missile launch around the founding anniversary of its military on Tuesday.

Mr Trump has pressed Mr Xi to exert greater pressure against North Korea, given China’s status as the country’s sole economic lifeline and major ally. Monday’s call is the second time that the two leaders have spoken by telephone since meeting in Florida earlier this month.

In a interview at the Oval Office on Friday, Mr Trump told AP that he declined to label China a currency manipulator mostly because he needed Mr Xi’s help with the North Korean crisis. “They are working with us on North Korea. Now maybe that’ll work out or maybe it won’t,” Mr Trump said, adding that he had a “great relationship” with the Chinese president.

Mr Trump also spoke with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday, and they agreed to urge North Korea to refrain from what Mr Abe called provocative actions.

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