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Donald Trump and Xi Jinping speak by phone amid US-North Korea tension

Xi Jinping and Donald Trump spoke on the phone, with the Chinese president calling for restraint as international concern mounted about the US president's brinksmanship on North Korea.

Mr Trump continued to escalate his rhetoric, tweeting that the US military was "locked and loaded".

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Xi urges restraint in North Korean conflict

The North Korean nuclear issue needs a peaceful resolution, Chinese President Xi Jinping tells US President Donald Trump.

"Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely," he wrote.

Asked about his comments by reporters, Trump, referring to Kim, said: "If he utters one threat ... or if he does anything with respect to Guam or any place else that's an American territory or an American ally, he will truly regret it, and he will regret it fast."

Hours later Mr Xi told Mr Trump in the Saturday phone call that the US and North Korea should "maintain restraint and avoid any speeches or actions that may escalate tension on the Korean Peninsula", according to Chinese official reports.

Mr Xi "stressed that China and the US have common interest in realising denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and maintaining peace and stability".

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Mr Xi urged "dialogue, negotiation and a political solution" to solve the problem.

The White House said in a statement that the leaders agreed that "North Korea must stop its provocative and escalatory behaviour."

"The presidents also reiterated their mutual commitment to the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula".

German chancellor Angela Merkel had earlier criticised the "escalation of rhetoric" between North Korea and the US as "the wrong answer".

The United States has urged China to do more to pressure North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons and missile tests and has held up the threat of secondary sanctions against Chinese companies and banks.

A week ago China backed a new round of crippling sanctions against North Korea in the United Nations Security Council and said it was willing to enforce new bans on iron ore, seafood and coal purchases from North Korea, despite China taking the biggest economic hit from the sanctions.

But after North Korea issued a fiery response to the sanctions this week, which it said would cripple its economy, and threatened to fire four missiles at a US airbase in Guam, analyst have speculated Mr Trump's dramatic change in language could also be an attempt to pressure China to go further and cut oil supplies to North Korea.

China in turn has urged the US and South Korea to stop holding large military drills on the Korean Peninsula if Washington wants Pyongyang to agree to a weapons freeze as a precondition for six-party talks.

The US intends to hold another such drill with South Korea in the coming days.

According to the Chinese reports, Mr Trump said he understands China's position on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue and the US is willing to continue to maintain close communication with China on major international and regional issues of common interests.

Associated Press meanwhile reported that at the same time as Mr Trump's public lambasting and threats against North Korea, the US and North Korean have reopened back channels for dialogue.