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North Korea nuclear crisis

China’s Xi urges France’s ­Macron in phone call to help restart talks with North Korea

Xi urges ­Macron in phone call to help restart talks with North Korea

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 September, 2017, 3:13am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 September, 2017, 3:40am

President Xi Jinping yesterday urged his French counterpart ­Emmanuel Macron to help restart negotiations with North Korea, as leading UN members consider a new round of sanctions against Pyongyang.

Xi’s telephone conversation with Macron was the latest ­between the leader of China and other world powers. US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke on the phone with Xi on Thursday and Wednesday respectively,­ state news agency Xinhua said.

In his talk with Macron, Xi called on France to play a ­“constructive role” in lowering tensions and resuming dialogue with North Korea.

China hints at tougher UN sanctions on North Korea

“The multiple calls just show how the Korean peninsular problem is of top concern among the world’s biggest powers and how high risk the security threat is,” said Shi Yinhong, an adviser to China’s State Council and director of the Centre for American Studies at Renmin University.

“Every major power involved in this conflict has shown a pretty clear stance except China, and therefore China’s inclination is really important,” he said.

The series of phone calls came after North Korea conducted its latest and largest nuclear weapon test on Sunday, which prompted an emergency follow-up meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday.

China, as one of the five permanent Security Council members along with France, Russia, Britain and the United States, has the power to veto any resolutions.

China rules out unilateral sanctions to punish North Korea for latest missile launch

Washington has been pushing for a new round of sanctions to stop any oil shipments to North Korea in response to its nuclear and missile programmes.

Xi discussed North Korea with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin when they met on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Xiamen on Sunday.

Putin had earlier said that additional sanctions would be “useless” in the current situation.

Wang Sheng, a specialist on Northeast Asia at Jilin University, said China leaned towards the Russian position, although ­Beijing would like to see some more pressure on North Korea.

Wang said Europe leaned closer to the US stance, but did not want to see sanctions that would cause hardship in North Korea.

He said that Britain’s decision to leave the EU last year had made France the most influential ­European Union power left among the five permanent members of the Security Council.

“The next round of sanctions is really crucial to the development of a relationship between the international community and North Korea, because it involves oil, which brings the conflict closer to war,” Wang said.