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China: US, N. Korea should establish contact, defuse crisis

Associated Press logo Associated Press 2/05/2017
A man walks past a board displaying United States and North Korea national flags in Beijing, Tuesday, May 2, 2017. President Donald Trump opened the door Monday to a future meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong Un, offering unusual praise for the globally ostracized leader at a time of surging nuclear tensions. (AP Photo/Andy Wong) © The Associated Press A man walks past a board displaying United States and North Korea national flags in Beijing, Tuesday, May 2, 2017. President Donald Trump opened the door Monday to a future meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong Un, offering unusual praise for the globally ostracized leader at a time of surging nuclear tensions. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

BEIJING — China urged the United States and North Korea on Tuesday to make contact "as soon as possible" and ease tensions amid rising belligerence from the two sides over the North's nuclear weapons program.

The call for negotiations from China's Foreign Ministry came after President Donald Trump opened the door to a possible future meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong Un.

Trump told Bloomberg News during an interview that he would be honored to meet with Kim at an unspecified future date "if it would be appropriate."

In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Washington and Pyongyang need to take concrete steps toward peace and avoid further escalating a crisis that has quickly spiraled into a top global security concern.

China has been pushing for the two sides to back down following a string of missile tests by North Korea and a massive live-fire artillery drill last week that was described as its largest ever.

Across the border, South Korea on Tuesday said a U.S.-sponsored missile defense system is now operational — over China's strong objections. U.S. and South Korean troops conducted joint exercises last month along the North's border.

Against that backdrop, Geng said China has taken note of the more diplomatic messages sent by the Trump administration and considers them constructive.

"Both sides should reach a political resolution as soon as possible," Geng said. "The most effective way of attaining an improvement is to seek ways to re-establish dialogue and contact."

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