Saturday, May 26, 2018 | ePaper

Xi asks Macron for French help easing North Korea tensions

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French President Emmanuel Macron and Chinese President Xi Jinping discussed the situation in North Korea during a phone call .

AFP, Beijing :
Chinese President Xi Jinping called on France to help ease the situation in North Korea during a phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron, state media said Friday, days after Pyongyang's largest ever nuclear test.
The conversation came one day after statements from China supporting stronger sanctions against Pyongyang and "necessary measures" at the UN Security Council, where China and France both hold vetoes.
"China hopes that France, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, will play a constructive role in easing the situation and restarting dialogue" on North Korea, Xi said, according to state broadcaster CCTV.
North Korea triggered global alarm Sunday with its most powerful nuclear blast to date, claiming to have successfully tested a hydrogen bomb.
During the call, the Chinese leader expressed his desire for the "denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula," which he had also noted during a conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel hours earlier.
Macron told Xi that France is willing to strengthen cooperation with China to promote the proper settlement of the nuclear issue.
Macron "reiterated the international community's condemnation of North Korea's provocations," the French president's office told AFP.
"These provocations call on the international community to place new pressure towards the goal of bringing Pyongyang back to negotiations and avoiding dangerous escalations," it said.
On Thursday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had said: "China agrees that the UN Security Council should respond further by taking necessary measures."
Earlier, Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said the German leader and Xi both agreed to support tougher sanctions against North Korea.
China, which is the North's biggest ally and accounts for 90 percent of its trade, is seen as key to efforts to convince Pyongyang to abandon its weapons programme.
Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States are the other veto-wielding permanent members of the security council.
Xi also spoke to US President Donald Trump over the phone Wednesday, telling his American counterpart that China remains firm in its wish to resolve the situation through talks leading to a peaceful settlement.
The US has accused North Korea of "begging for war" and pushed for the "strongest possible measures" against Pyongyang.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who held talks with Xi in eastern China during the BRICS summit earlier this week, has repeatedly insisted that further economic pressure on Pyongyang will not work.

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