BEIJING – Chinese leader Xi Jinping urged U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday to avoid rhetoric that could inflame tensions with North Korea as an escalating war of words raised global alarm. Xi made the plea in a phone call hours after Trump ramped up his warnings to Pyongyang, saying the Stalinist regime would "truly regret" taking hostile action against the United States. The White House said in a statement that the two leaders "agreed North Korea must stop provocative and escalatory behavior" and that they are both committed to the denuclearization of the peninsula. But the Chinese foreign ministry said Xi urged Trump to avoid "words and deeds" that would "exacerbate" the already-tense situation, exercise restraint and seek a political settlement. Trump has been engaged all week in verbal sparring with the North over its weapons and missile programs.
SEOUL/MANILA – U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held a door open for dialogue with North Korea on Monday, saying Washington was willing to talk to Pyongyang if it halted a series of recent missile test launches. Tillerson's comments at a regional security forum in Manila were the latest U.S. attempt to rein in Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs after months of tough talk from U.S. President Donald Trump. The U.N. Security Council on Saturday imposed its toughest round of sanctions yet against Pyongyang over its two intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests in July. But Tillerson appeared more conciliatory on Monday. "When the conditions are right, then we can sit and have a dialogue around the future of North Korea so they feel secure and prosper economically," Tillerson told reporters.
US President Donald Trump has said North Korea's latest missile launch signals "contempt" for its neighbours and the UN. He said the North would only increase its isolation and that "all options" were on the table. The missile flew over northern Japan's Hokkaido island before crashing into the northern Pacific Ocean. Pyongyang says it is being provoked by US-South Korea military exercises which it says are a rehearsal for invasion. Russia and China have also cited the drills as the source of the latest tensions.
China has warned the US and North Korea to "hit the brakes" on threats and actions, and work towards a peaceful resolution of their dispute. Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in a phone conversation with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday, said the two countries should work together and contain tensions. Russia and China should not permit any party to "stir up an incident on their doorstep", he said. The warnings come after the North angered the international community by testing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) late in July, a move which saw Pyongyang slapped with new UN sanctions. Meanwhile, China and Russia called for the US to suspend planned large-scale military exercises in exchange for North Korea suspending its missile and nuclear test as a first step toward direct talks.
US and South Korean troops have begun annual military drills amid heated warnings by the North that the exercises will worsen tensions in the region. The Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills, which began on Monday, are largely computer-simulated war games. The exercise brings together as many as 50,000 South Korean soldiers and approximately 17,500 US service members for a simulation of war on the Korean Peninsula. South Korea's President Moon Jae-in said the drills are defensive in nature. He said the exercises are held regularly because of repeated provocations by the North, including two intercontinental ballistic missile tests last month.