Xi urges Trump to show 'restraint' on North Korea

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US, China presidents talk amid concerns of a Pyongyang arms test today

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping urged "restraint" on North Korea during a phone call on Monday with US President Donald Trump, days before an American supercarrier is due to arrive in the Korean Peninsula.

The conversation came amid growing concerns that Pyongyang will conduct another nuclear or missile test today to mark the 85th anniversary of the founding of its Korean People's Army.

"(China) hopes that the relevant parties can maintain restraint and avoid actions that would increase tensions in the Korean Peninsula," Mr Xi said.

"The only way to realise denuclearisation in the Korean Peninsula and quickly resolve North Korea's nuclear problem is for each relevant party to fulfil its duties."

It was the second phone call between the two leaders since their summit at Mr Trump's luxury resort in Florida early this month.

Speaking in Sydney on Saturday, US Vice-President Mike Pence said the American aircraft carrier Carl Vinson would arrive in the Sea of Japan, bordering the Korean Peninsula, "in a matter of days".

The ship joined other warships for joint exercises with Japan in the Philippine Sea on Sunday.

Confusion has clouded the carrier group's whereabouts in recent days, after Mr Trump suggested the "armada" was steaming towards North Korea when it was sent towards Australia.

Mr Pence also renewed calls for Beijing - Pyongyang's only major ally and largest trade partner - to use its "unique" position to bring Pyongyang to heel.

"The steps we're seeing China take, in many ways unprecedented steps, bringing economic pressure to bear on North Korea are very welcome," Mr Pence said. "We do believe China can do more."

In February, China announced it was halting all imports of coal from North Korea - a crucial earner for Pyongyang - for the rest of the year.

China also issued a stern warning earlier this month that a conflict over North Korea could break out "at any moment", as Pyongyang vowed a "merciless" response to any US military action.

The comments came ahead of a failed missile test coinciding with the 105th anniversary of the birth of North Korea's founder, Kim Il Sung.- AFP

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