Chinese President Xi Jinping made a plea for cool-headedness over escalating tensions between the US and North Korea in a phone conversation with US President Donald Trump urging both sides to avoid words or actions that could worsen the situation.
The call came after Trump unleashed a slew of fresh threats against North Korea, declaring the US military "locked and loaded" and warning North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that he "will regret it fast" if he takes any action against US territories or allies.
Trump has pushed China to pressure North Korea to halt a nuclear weapons programme that is nearing the capability of targeting the United States. China is the North's biggest economic partner and source of aid, but says it alone can't compel Pyongyang to end its nuclear and missile programs.
The White House said in a statement that Trump and Xi "agreed North Korea must stop its provocative and escalatory behaviour." It also said that the two "reiterated their mutual commitment to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."
State-run China Central Television quoted Xi as telling Trump the "relevant parties must maintain restraint and avoid words and deeds that would exacerbate the tension on the Korean Peninsula."
But restraint was not the word of the day as Trump sent out a cascade of unscripted statements, including what appeared to be another red line — the mere utterance of threats — that would trigger a US attack against North Korea and "big, big trouble" for Kim.