Chinese President Xi Jinping urged “restraint” on North Korea during a phone call with US President Donald Trump, just days before an American supercarrier is due to arrive in the Korean Peninsula.
The Monday conversation came amid growing concerns that Pyongyang will conduct another nuclear or missile test to mark the 85th anniversary of the founding of its Korean People’s Army.
“(China) hopes that the relevant parties can maintain restraint and avoid actions that would increase tensions in the Korean Peninsula,” Xi said, according to a statement released by the foreign ministry.
“The only way to realise denuclearisation in the Korean Peninsula and quickly resolve North Korea’s nuclear problem is for each relevant party to fulfil its duties,” the statement said.
This was the second phone call between the two leaders since their summit at Trump’s in Florida resort earlier this month.
Of late, North Korea has ramped up its rhetoric in recent weeks, threatening to hit back against any provocation from the US and its regional allies, Japan and South Korea, which both host large American military contingents.
Speaking in Sydney on Saturday, US Vice President Mike Pence said the American aircraft carrier Carl Vinson would arrive in the Sea of Japan, bordering the Korean Peninsula, “in a matter of days”.
The ship joined other warships for joint exercises with Japan in the Philippine Sea on Sunday.
Pence also renewed calls for Beijing — Pyongyang’s only major ally and largest trade partner — to use its “unique” position to bring Pyongyang to heel.
“The steps we’re seeing China take, in many ways unprecedented steps, bringing economic pressure to bear on North Korea are very welcome,” Pence had said.
“We do believe China can do more,” he added.
In February, China announced it was halting all imports of coal from North Korea — a crucial earner for Pyongyang – for the rest of the year.
China also issued a stern warning earlier this month that a conflict over North Korea could break out “at any moment”, as Pyongyang vowed a “merciless” response to any US military action.
(With inputs from agencies)