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24 Apr, 2017 13:09

China’s Xi urges restraint during Trump call as ‘USS Carl Vinson’ heads for Korean waters

China’s Xi urges restraint during Trump call as ‘USS Carl Vinson’ heads for Korean waters

The Chinese president called for all sides to exercise restraint during a phone call with US leader Donald Trump on the issue of Pyongyang. It came as North Korean state media warned the US of “catastrophic consequences” of its deployment of the ‘USS Carl Vinson.’

President Xi Jinping told Trump during the call that China strongly opposes North Korea's nuclear weapons program, according to CCTV.

He also said that Beijing opposes any actions that run counter to UN Security Council resolutions, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement, as cited by Reuters.

Xi added that Beijing “hopes that all relevant sides exercise restraint, and avoid doing anything to worsen the tense situation on the peninsula,” the ministry said, paraphrasing the president.

The Chinese leader said the nuclear issue can only be resolved quickly if all relevant countries are pulling in the same direction, adding that Beijing is willing to work with all parties – including the US – to ensure peace.

Commenting on the call between the two leaders, the White House said Monday that Trump criticized North Korea's "belligerence" and "destabilizing" actions during the conversation.

It went on to state that Trump and Xi reaffirmed the urgency of the perceived threats posed by Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs during the call, and committed to stronger coordination between Washington and Beijing.

The phone call between the two leaders comes as Trump continues to press Xi to exert greater pressure on North Korea over its nuclear program. China is North Korea's main economic lifeline and sole major ally.

Trump has long criticized China when it comes to Pyongyang, stating earlier this month that the US will “solve the problem” of North Korea with or without Beijing's help. The president has warned that all options are on the table when it comes to dealing with Pyongyang, including a military strike.

The US president has, however, recently praised China's efforts to rein in the “menace of North Korea.”

Despite being an ally to the North, China has been recently angered by its nuclear and missile programs, and is frustrated by Pyongyang's belligerence on the world stage.

The Monday call took place amid speculation that Pyongyang could be planning to hold a sixth nuclear test this week.

'Catastrophic consequences' 

As the ‘USS Carl Vinson’ moves closer towards Pyongyang, a commentary in Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of North Korea's ruling Workers' party, called the aircraft carrier's deployment “an extremely dangerous act by those who plan a nuclear war to invade.”

"The United States should not run amok and should consider carefully any catastrophic consequence from its foolish military provocative act," the commentary said.

"What's only laid for aggressors is dead bodies," it continued.

It comes just one day after a commentary in the same paper said that North Korea is ready to illustrate its “military force” by sinking the “nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with a single strike.” 

The ‘Carl Vinson’ was deployed to the waters off the Korean Peninsula in response to mounting concern over the North's nuclear and missile tests, and its threats to attack the US and its Asian allies.

Although Washington has not specified where the vessel is as it approaches the area, US Vice President Mike Pence said on Saturday that it would “arrive in days.” 

Two Japanese destroyers have joined the carrier group for exercises in the western Pacific, according to Reuters. South Korea has also said it is in talks about holding joint naval exercises.

Trump also spoke to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday, as the two countries participate in the joint exercises. Abe told reporters that the two sides “agreed to strongly demand that North Korea, which is repeating its provocation, show restraint.”