Xi Stresses China's North Korea Concerns in Talk With Trump

Chinese leader Xi Jinping has urged Donald Trump to peacefully resolve tensions over North Korea's nuclear programme, as the USA president touted the power of a naval "armada" steaming towards the Korean peninsula.

South Korea's acting president, Hwang Kyo-ahn, has warned of "greater provocations" by North Korea and ordered the military to intensify monitoring.

Washington views the threat as one against the US itself too, as North Korea's nuclear and missile programs approach the capacity to reach the USA mainland.

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".

Xi told Trump that China is willing to continue working with the United States on denuclearization, according to a brief description of the call released by the Chinese foreign ministry. It was not immediately clear who initiated the call.

News of the carrier move comes just after a summit meeting between US President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, where North Korea was one of the top items on the agenda.

Trump said Tuesday that the USA was ready to solve the North Korean "problem" without China if necessary, as he and Pyongyang engage in tit-for-tat saber-rattling that has sent tensions soaring in East Asia.

United States intelligence officials fear that the North's leader, Kim Jong Un, could be preparing a nuclear weapons test in the coming days, possibly to mark the 105th anniversary of the birth of his grandfather, the North's founder Kim Il Sung. The president has issued repeated, ambiguous warnings about his willingness to take unilateral actions - a threat that assumed new resonance after he ordered a missile strike against Syria last week over its alleged use of chemical weapons. Yet, once the two leaders had finished their steaks, Trump informed him that as they had been speaking, the US had launched an attack on Syria in the form of tomahawk missiles.

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In the medium term, key players in the region should reconvene under the former six-party talks mechanism, or something similar, to work out the terms for Pyongyang to suspend its nuclear and missile program. The broader White House message was likely aimed about 500 miles to the west at Beijing because, as much the Syrian airstrike pressed Moscow to reign in its partners in Damascus, t he president calculus on North Korea puts additional pressure on China to corral Kim Jung Un once and for all.

Saturday will be the 105th anniversary of his birth.

Two sources in Japan said the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force (MSDF) and the U.S. Navy could conduct helicopter landings on each other's ships, as well as communication drills, as the U.S. ships pass through waters close to Japanese territory. They told the news agency that the Japanese military planned to join the USA forces for drills when the Carl Vinson moved through waters near Japan.

MSDF officials did not respond immediately when asked for comment.

But the Vinson's presence near North Korea points to the larger challenge for the USA of deterrence, which has to be backed by the real threat of force.

"In fact, I think the outside exaggerates the sort of role China can play". He said all options on North Korea, including potential military intervention, would be discussed in advance with Tokyo.

Chinese leaders worry that a North Korean regime collapse would lead to a refugee crisis on the border and eliminate the buffer between a democratic South Korea and its allies. It regularly threatens to destroy both countries.

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