(Source: www.straitstimes.com)

BEIJING (REUTERS/AFP) – Chinese President Xi Jinping urged US President Donald Trump in a phone call on Saturday (Aug 12) to avoid “words and deeds” that would “exacerbate” the already-tense situation on the Korean Peninsula, but the White House insisted that North Korea “must stop its provocative and escalatory behaviour”.

Xi told Trump that it was in the joint interests of both China and the United States to achieve the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and protect peace and stability there, Chinese state television CCTV said in a brief report. 

“The relevant side must at present exercise restraint, and avoid words and deeds that exacerbate tensions on the Korean peninsula,” the report paraphrased Xi as saying.

Resolving the nuclear issue ultimately needs to be done politically via talks, and China is willing to maintain communication with the US on the basis of mutual respect to push for an appropriate resolution, Xi added.

Chinese state television cited Trump as telling Xi that he fully understands the role China has been playing on the North Korean nuclear issue.

Both leaders also said they were looking forward to Trump making a state visit to China this year. 

“At the moment, China-US relations are in a state of good development,” Trump said, according to China’s state-run CCTV. “I believe they can become even better.” 

China has traditionally been North Korea’s closest ally, but it voted in favour of a series of UN Security Council sanctions against Kim Jong Un’s regime last weekend.

During their call, the leaders hailed the adoption of the United Nations Security Council resolution targeting the North as an “important and necessary step towards achieving peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” a White House statement read.  

“The presidents also reiterated their mutual commitment to denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula,” it added, stressing the two leaders had an “extremely close relationship” that “will hopefully lead to a peaceful resolution of the North Korea problem.” 

Trump had issued a new threat to North Korea on Friday, saying the US military was “locked and loaded”, as Pyongyang accused him of driving the Korean peninsula to the brink of nuclear war and world powers expressed alarm.

Trump also warned North Korea to expect “big, big trouble” if anything happens to the US territory of Guam.

Speaking at his Bedminister, New Jersey golf resort, he had promised the territory would be “very safe, believe me”.

The US could impose further sanctions, “as strong as they get”, on North Korea, he added.

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