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China’s Xi calls Trump, urges US, North Korea to begin talks soon

China’s President Xi Jinping has encouraged the US and North Korea to kick off talks “as soon as possible” during a phone call with his American counterpart Donald Trump, state media reported.

“I hope the United States and North Korea can start to get in touch and dialogue as soon as possible, and strive to obtain positive achievements,” Xi told Trump during the Friday conversation as quoted in a Xinhua report.

According to the report, Xi further praised the “positive aspiration” of Trump to achieve a political settlement of the crisis in the Korean Peninsula after the US president agreed a day earlier to meet North Korea’s Leader Kim Jong-un, the state news agency added.

Trump agreed on Thursday to a historic meeting with Kim by May in a striking development in Washington’s high-risk nuclear standoff with Pyongyang. The potential meeting would represent the first ever between a US president and a North Korean leader.

According to the report, Xi also told Trump the bid to pursue denuclearization through “the right track of dialogue” was positive.

The Chinese president, the report added, further assured his US counterpart that Beijing would “firmly devote itself to achieve the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” as well as resolving the problem through dialogue and consultation.

However, China’s foreign minister underlined on Thursday that “the sincerity” of all parties to resolve the nuclear crisis would be a challenge since breakthroughs on the North Korean nuclear issue had collapsed in the past.

“Of course it takes more than one cold day to freeze three feet of ice,” he said.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has also expressed pleasure over the potential meeting between Trump and Kim, his spokesman announced on Friday.

“He commends the leadership and vision of all concerned and reiterates his support for all efforts towards peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions,” UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric stated in a press briefing.

The developments came after South Korean envoy returning from the North earlier this week revealed that Pyongyang had offered to hold denuclearization talks in exchange for security guarantees.

The envoy, Chung Eui-yong, who heads Seoul’s National Security Office, will travel to Beijing and Moscow following his Washington visit where he announced Trump will meet Kim.

Meanwhile, China has repeatedly pressed for negotiations that would peacefully resolve tensions that have triggered fears of nuclear warfare, after months of harsh rhetoric between Kim and Trump.