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Xi, Trump discuss North Korean nuclear crisis in telephone call

US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping walk together at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida. Photo: AP

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Donald Trump on Monday morning discussed the deteriorating North Korean nuclear threat during a telephone call, amid fears that Pyongyang's reckless nuclear weapons program would lead to a war, China Central Television (CCTV) reported.

China's largest state broadcaster quoted Chinese President Xi as saying that China strongly opposes North Korea's provocative actions which are in contravention of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, and hopes that all parties would exercise restraint to avoid aggravating tensions in the Korean Peninsula.

"We are willing to communicate with all parties including the US to maintain peace in the Korean Peninsula," Chinese President Xi said, reiterating Beijing's goal of denuclearizing the region, which must be achieved through peaceful means, according to the CCTV report.

Monday's telephone call is the second between the two world leaders since their face-to-face meeting at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida earlier this month.

On Sunday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters after meeting his Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias in Athens that "voices of peace and rationality" are needed to deal with the tensions in the Korean Peninsula, especially when hostile words and actions abound.

"China may not have the key to this solution, but it has been making efforts to resume the peace talks. Recently, we offered some reasonable proposals supported by more and more countries," Wang said.

Some experts say that the key to resolving the North Korean nuclear issue lies in whether the US can change its tough stance on North Korea, as the US is seeking closer alliance with South Korea and Japan to curb China's fast-growing geopolitical influence in the region.

China has lodged strong objections to the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system in South Korea, which Beijing calls a severe threat to its security interest.

The US and its regional ally South Korea insist that the deployment of the THAAD defense system is aimed at protecting South Korea from being attacked by North Korea's missiles.

On Monday morning, US President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo also exchanged views about the North Korean nuclear issue by telephone. They agreed to urge the isolated country to refrain from provocative actions, according to media reports.

Last week, a spokesperson for North Korea's foreign ministry said that Pyongyang was having a close eye on the "US conspiratorial moves" against it, with its troops being well prepared for a war with the US, China's Xinhua News Agency quoted North Korea's KCNA News Agency as saying.

The North Korean foreign ministry spokesperson also warned that an "all-out war" would break out if the US took military actions, and that Pyongyang would "fight back with nuclear attacks", according to the Xinhua report.

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