China calls Trump to say peaceful solution needed in North Korea

Influential ‘Global Times’ warns North Korea against nuclear test as Xi calls White House

President Xi Jinping of China told his US counterpart Donald Trump that a solution to the growing nuclear threat of North Korea must be achieved through peaceful means, the official news agency Xinhua reported.

In a telephone call with Mr Trump, Mr Xi “stressed China’s desire for the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and emphasised that the ongoing tensions should be resolved through peaceful methods”, according to a report by state broadcaster China Central Television.

Military tensions are running high in the region as satellite data shows North Korea may be preparing its sixth nuclear test in defiance of United Nations sanctions.

The USS Carl Vinson strike group, led by a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, has been diverted from Singapore towards the Korean Peninsula, in what Mr Trump has described as an "armada".


Mr Trump earlier tweeted: “I explained to the president of China that a trade deal with the US will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem!”

The telephone conversation took place after China's influential Global Times tabloid warned North Korea against carrying out a nuclear test, saying the latest threat against Pyongyang was given added credibility by Washington's missile attack on a Syrian air base.

Chemical weapons

In the phone call, Mr Xi also told Mr Trump that any use of chemical weapons was "unacceptable" on the Syria issue.

The Korean Peninsula had never been so close to a military clash since the North conducted its first nuclear test in 2006, the Global Times said.

The newspaper is published by the same state-run stable that owns the Communist Party's official organ, the People's Daily. While its opinions are not directly those of the government, they are unlikely to run counter to the prevailing view in the party's upper echelons.

Mr Trump met Mr Xi at Mar-a-Lago in Florida last week for talks reported in China as unfailingly positive, although there are still clear differences on North Korea.

On Tuesday, Mr Trump tweeted: “North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them!”

April is a fraught time of major anniversaries coming up in North Korea, traditionally a time when Kim Jong-un, like previous leaders, makes a show of strength for the people.

This week, the Supreme People’s Assembly will convene on April 15th and North Korea will mark the birth anniversary of the late leader Kim Il-sung, a day known as the Day of the Sun.

Clifford Coonan

Clifford Coonan

Clifford Coonan, an Irish Times contributor, spent 15 years reporting from Beijing