World

Xi urges peaceful N. Korea resolution

Japan's navy to conduct exercises with US carrier group in show of force

BEIJING/TOKYO Chinese President Xi Jinping called for a peaceful resolution of rising tensions on the Korean peninsula in a telephone conversation with US President Donald Trump yesterday, as a US aircraft carrier strike group steams towards the region.

Mr Trump's call to Mr Xi came after an influential state-run Chinese newspaper warned that the Korean peninsula is the closest it has been to a "military clash" since Pyongyang's first nuclear test in 2006.

Tension has escalated sharply amid concerns that North Korea could soon conduct a sixth nuclear test or more missile launches and Mr Trump's threat of unilateral action to solve the problem.

Mr Trump had already ordered the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier group to head for the Korean peninsula in an attempt to deter North Korea's nuclear and long-range missile ambitions, which it is developing in defiance of United Nations resolutions and sanctions.

Yesterday's call between Mr Xi and Mr Trump came hard on the heels of their first face-to-face meeting in Florida last week. Mr Trump had warned earlier on Twitter that Pyongyang is "looking for trouble".

He also said the US would "solve the problem" with or without Beijing's help.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported on the exchange between the two leaders, saying Mr Xi stressed that China "is committed to the target of denuclearisation on the peninsula, safeguarding peace and stability on the peninsula, and advocates resolving problems through peaceful means".

"China is willing to maintain close communication and coordination with the US side," Mr Xi said.

Earlier yesterday, two sources in Tokyo said Japan's navy planned exercises with the Carl Vinson carrier group in a joint show of force, amid concern over the rapid pace of North Korea's missile development.

They said the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force and the US Navy could conduct helicopter landings on each other's ships, as well as communication drills, as the US ships pass through waters close to Japanese territory.

"Japan wants to dispatch several destroyers as the Carl Vinson enters the East China Sea," one of the sources said.

North Korean state media warned on Tuesday of a nuclear attack on the US at any sign of American aggression.

Officials from North Korea, including leader Kim Jong Un, have indicated that an intercontinental ballistic missile test or something similar could be coming.

North Korea launched a long-range rocket carrying a satellite on April 13, 2012, marking the anniversary of the birth of founding president Kim Il Sung.

Saturday will be the 105th birthday of the founding leader. - REUTERS

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