Beijing, China (Reuters): Chinese President Xi Jinping called for a peaceful resolution of rising tensions on the Korean peninsula in a telephone conversation with U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday, as a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group steams towards the region.
Xi's call with Trump came after an influential state-run Chinese newspaper warned that the Korean peninsula was the closest it has been to a "military clash" since Pyongyang's first nuclear test in 2006.
Tension has escalated sharply on the Korean peninsula amid concerns that reclusive North Korea could soon conduct a sixth nuclear test or more missile launches and Trump's threat of unilateral action to solve the problem.
Trump had already ordered the US 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.
Wednesday's call between Xi and Trump came hard on the heels of their first face-to-face meeting in Florida last week. It was not immediately clear who initiated the call.
Trump, who has urged China to do more to rein in North Korea, had warned earlier on Twitter that Pyongyang was "looking for trouble" and that the United States would "solve the problem" with or without Beijing's help.
Xi stressed that China "is committed to the target of decentralization on the peninsula, safeguarding peace and stability on the peninsula, and advocates resolving problems through peaceful means," Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said of the exchange between the two leaders.
Xi said, "China is willing to maintain close communication and coordination with the U.S. side."
Earlier on Wednesday, two sources in Tokyo said Japan's navy planned exercises with the Vinson carrier group in a joint show of force.
The influential Chinese state-run Global Times also said in an editorial North Korea should halt any plans for nuclear and missile activities "for its own security". While widely read in China and run by the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily, the Global Times does not represent government policy.
The editorial noted Trump's recent decision to launch 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airfield in response to a deadly gas attack last week.
The Global Times said, "Not only [is] Washington brimming with confidence and arrogance following the missile attacks on Syria, but Trump is also willing to be regarded as a man who honors his promises."
"The U.S. is making up its mind to stop the North from conducting further nuclear tests. It doesn't plan to co-exist with a nuclear-armed Pyongyang," it said. "Pyongyang should avoid making mistakes at this time."
North Korean state media warned on Tuesday of a nuclear attack on the United States at any sign of American aggression.