BEIJING – Chinese President Xi Jinping told President Donald Trump in a phone call Wednesday that Beijing is willing to work with Washington on ending North Korea's nuclear weapons program but wants a peaceful solution.
Xi's comments come after the U.S. president tweeted that China should do more on the issue Washington sees as an increasingly urgent threat, or the U.S. would go it alone.
The call, brief details of which were released by the Chinese foreign ministry, also come as tensions have risen with the deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier to the area and the conducting of the biggest-ever U.S.-South Korea military exercises.
Xi told Trump that China insists on peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and wants to find a solution to the problem through peaceful means.
"China insists on realizing the denuclearization of the peninsula ... and is willing to maintain communication and coordination with the American side over the issue on the peninsula," Xi was quoted as saying by state broadcaster CCTV and other official media outlets.
The two leaders spoke Tuesday night Washington time.
Earlier Tuesday, Trump tweeted that he tried to persuade Xi to put pressure on North Korea in exchange for a good trade deal with the U.S.
"I explained to the President of China that a trade deal with the U.S. will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem!" Trump tweeted.
In a second tweet he wrote: "North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A."
Trump and other U.S. officials have repeatedly called on China to leverage its status as North Korea's biggest economic partner and source of food and fuel aid to force Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons program.
China responds that it is in full compliance with sanctions enacted under U.N. Security Council resolutions and in February, suspended imports of coal from North Korea — a key source of foreign currency for Kim Jong Un's hard-line Communist regime.
However, Beijing also says it will not countenance measures that could bring about a collapse of the regime that could release a flood of refugees across its border, destabilize northeast Asia and result in a U.S.-friendly government taking power in Pyongyang.