Chinese state media say President Xi Jinping told U.S. leader Donald Trump that resolving North Korea tensions should be achieved peacefully.
The reports said the leaders spoke by telephone Wednesday, nearly a week after after face-to-face talks at a summit in the U.S. state of Florida. The White House has not yet issued its account of the conversation.
On Tuesday, Trump used Twitter to reiterate his calls for China to help rein in North Korea.
“North Korea is looking for trouble,” Trump wrote. “If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them!”
He did not elaborate on what actions the U.S. might take. But in another message posted minutes earlier, Trump said he told Xi terms of a trade deal would be better for China “if they solve the North Korea problem.”
China weary of North Korea
China is North Korea's main benefactor, with the Council on Foreign Relations describing Beijing as North Korea's “most important ally, biggest trading partner, and main source of food, arms, and energy.”
But China has also grown weary of North Korea's repeated missile tests in violation of United Nations sanctions, as well as its five nuclear tests. Some analysts believe North Korea is preparing a sixth nuclear test.
Trump Saturday dispatched a U.S. Navy strike group to the northern Pacific waters near North Korea to send a message to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. North Korea has said that the U.S. missile attack last week on Syria in response to that country's use of chemical weapons justifies Pyongyang's nuclear development program, as the country fears a similar U.S. attack.
Trump talks trade gap
Trump also urged Xi to help close the yawning U.S. trade gap with China, with Chinese interests last year exporting $347 billion more in products to the U.S. than American businesses sent to China. The U.S. imports consumer electronics, clothing and machinery from China, while U.S. manufacturers send raw materials to China for low-cost assembly of some consumer products.
Trump has suggested he will try to impose tariffs on goods made overseas by U.S. companies that then bring the products back to the U.S. for sale to American consumers. But he has not made any tariff proposal to Congress, which would have to approve a new levy. Such an action could initiate a trade war with foreign governments and also boost the price of consumer goods in the United States.