BEDMINSTER, N.J./BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s President Xi Jinping said there needs to be a peaceful resolution to the North Korean nuclear issue, and in a telephone call with U.S. President Donald Trump he urged all sides to avoid words or action that raise tensions.
Xi’s comments came hours after Trump warned North Korea that the U.S. military was “locked and loaded” as Pyongyang accused the U.S. leader of driving the Korean peninsula to the brink of nuclear war.
The Pentagon said the United States and South Korea would proceed as planned with a joint military exercise in 10 days, an action sure to further antagonise North Korea.
In a statement, China’s foreign ministry said Xi told Trump that a peaceful resolution to the North Korean nuclear issue was essential, and urged calm.
“Concerned parties must exercise restraint and avoid remarks and actions that escalate tensions on the Korean peninsula,” it cited Xi as saying.
In their phone call, Trump and Xi “agreed North Korea must stop its provocative and escalatory behaviour,” the White House said in a statement, and reiterated their mutual commitment to denuclearize the Korean peninsula. It added the relationship between Trump and Xi was “extremely close” and “will hopefully lead to a peaceful resolution of the North Korea problem.”
Trump, vacationing at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf resort, earlier took to Twitter to warn North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that U.S. “military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely”.
Again referring to Kim, Trump added, “If he utters one threat … or if he does anything with respect to Guam or any place else that’s an American territory or an American ally, he will truly regret it, and he will regret it fast.”
In remarks to reporters after a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, Trump said the situation with North Korea was “very dangerous and it will not continue”.
He added, “We will see what happens. We think that lots of good things could happen, and we could also have a bad solution.”
Despite the tough rhetoric, Trump insisted that “nobody loves a peaceful solution better than President Trump.”
South Korea’s presidential Blue House said in a statement on Saturday the United States and China were working to resolve the North Korea crisis, and it hoped the two leaders’ phone call “will be able to resolve the peak of tension and act as a catalyst for the situation to move on to a new dimension.”
writers: James Oliphant and Ben Blanchard