Trump calls Asian leaders as North Korea tensions rise

Earlier this month, it was diverted while en route to Australia and ordered to sail to a station in the Western Pacific Ocean in closer proximity to North Korea, according to Navy officials.

North Korea said at the weekend it was ready to sink the United States aircraft supercarrier, the USS Carl Vinson, which Trump had ordered to waters off the Korean peninsula as a warning to the nuclear-armed North.

In a series of editorials the Rodong Sinmun newspaper - the official mouthpiece of the ruling Workers' Party - said the North's forces were undeterred and called the United States strike group's imminent arrival "undisguised military blackmail".

The USS Carl Vinson's strike group is now in the Philippine Sea, where it's taking part in joint exercises with Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force, including two Japanese destroyers.

The phone call, which took place Monday morning Beijing time, came as South Korean officials warned there is a chance that North Korea will conduct a nuclear test or a maiden intercontinental missile launch around the founding anniversary of its military on Tuesday.

Sales of nuclear shelters and radiation-blocking air purifiers have surged in Japan in recent weeks as North Korea has pressed ahead with missile tests in defiance of global sanctions.

In the phone talks, which lasted about 30 minutes, Abe told Trump that he highly appreciates the president for showing North Korea, both through words and actions, that all options are on the table. China is anxious that mounting tensions will lead to war, and the chaotic collapse its neighbour.

China's president has called for "restraint" from all parties in a call with US President Donald Trump, a day after Pyongyang said it was "ready" to sink a US aircraft carrier.

Further complicating the situation was the news that North Korea had detained a United States university professor, Kim Sang-duk, also known as Tony Kim, on Saturday as he attempted to fly out of Pyongyang International Airport.

Xi told Trump that China resolutely opposes any actions that run counter to UN Security Council resolutions, a Chinese foreign ministry statement said.

The rest of the Xinhua report on the phone call between Mr Xi and Mr Trump was notably positive in describing US-China relations, saying that Mr Xi had reached "important consensus" with Mr Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and that their "good communication. has won positive evaluation by the Chinese and American peoples and the rest of the global community".

President Donald Trump has pledged to rein in the "menace" of North Korea's nuclear program, and has spoken to Chinese President Xi Jinping about getting China, as one of North Korea's only allies, to put pressure on its neighbor to change course.

Pyongyang says it will press ahead with missile tests despite Mr Trump's warnings. "China has been putting pressure on him, and he's trying to show strength to his country".

"We completely agreed that we strongly demand restraint by North Korea, which has repeatedly taken unsafe provocative actions", Abe told reporters after the call.

On Sunday, Trump spoke with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe about "a range of regional and global issues of mutual concern".

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier was rerouted toward North Korea earlier this month, after initial confusion over its strike group's deployment - including a statement by President Trump that he was sending "an armada" to the Korean Peninsula.

The US vice-president, Mike Pence, who recently visited South Korea, said on Saturday the carrier group would arrive within days.

US and South Korean officials have been saying for weeks the North could soon stage another nuclear test, something the United States, China, and others have warned against.

Despite clear USA warnings to put an end to its nuclear weapons program, satellites have shown increased activity at the country's nuclear sites, while North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un has said that his intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) program has reached its "final stage" of preparation.

However, the group said it was unclear whether the site was in a "tactical pause" before another test or was carrying out normal operations.

In Washington on Monday, Trump said "the status quo in North Korea is also unacceptable", and he called on the Security Council to impose new sanctions.

  • Leroy Wright