gettyimages 881406512 U.S. urges China to use all available levers to denuclearize N. Korea

In spite of US President Trump’s warnings, North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile early today for the first time in four months. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

U.S. President Donald Trump urged Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday to “use all available levers” to compel North Korea to end provocative acts and rid itself of nuclear weapons, the White House said.

Trump and Xi spoke by phone after North Korea earlier Wednesday test-fired what it claims is a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile that could hit anywhere in the United States with a nuclear warhead.

“President Trump emphasized the need for China to use all available levers to convince North Korea to end its provocations and return to the path of denuclearization,” the White House said in a brief statement.

In a Twitter post, Trump said the United States will impose “additional major sanctions” on North Korea later Wednesday as part of efforts to impose “maximum pressure” on Pyongyang in concert with the international community.

Xi told Trump that China upholds the “unswerving goal” of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, maintaining the international nuclear nonproliferation regime and preserving peace and stability in Northeast Asia, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

Xi was quoted by Xinhua as saying China wants to keep up communications with the United States and other regional powers and jointly push the nuclear issue in the direction of peaceful settlement via dialogue and negotiation.

China accounts for about 90 percent of North Korea’s total trade and is a major supplier of oil to the country, prompting critics to call Beijing an economic enabler of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

The United States, Japan and South Korea, among other countries, have urged China both to ensure full enforcement of U.N. sanctions against North Korea and also do more to rein in its defiant neighbor.

Beijing opposes Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons development but fears strong economic pressure could destabilize the country, resulting in a wave of refugees flooding into northeastern China and the loss of a strategic buffer zone from South Korea, a U.S. ally.

Kyodo News International

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