Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Donald Trump and Xi Jinping had “extensive discussions around the dangerous situation in North Korea” at a summit at in Florida last week.
“President Xi clearly understands, and I think agrees, that the situation has intensified and has reached a certain level of threat that action has to be taken,” he told CBS’s Face the Nation.
Mr Tillerson did not elaborate on what those actions might be but his comments suggest that the Trump administration’s position may be hardening on North Korea’s nuclear programme.
Although a US Navy strike group is headed towards the Korean peninsula in a show of force, Washington has previously leaned towards sanctions and pressure to deter North Korea.
Last night North Korea promised it will retaliate and defend itself “by powerful force of arms” after the US deployed a Navy strike group in the Korean Peninsula.
Kim Jong-un’s state-owned news agency KCNA claimed Trump’s deployment showed “reckless moves for invading” that had now “reached a serious phase”.
It comes after Trump sent the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson into the Sea of Japan after several provocative missile launches from Kim’s communist nation.
Donald Trump and Xi Jinping discussed North Korea at a summit in Florida last week
The US is highly unlikely to launch an attack on North Korea because the move could possibly escalate tensions to nuclear war.
America also recognises that the importance of having a joint approach with China, which remains North Korea’s most important ally in the region.
On Monday China and South Korea agreed to slap tougher sanctions on North Korea if the country carries out nuclear or long-range missile tests, according to an official in Seoul.
International tensions have been heightened after the US President ordered missile strikes on a Syrian airbase in response to a deadly chemical attack by the Assad regime in Syria.
Iran and Russia – key allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – have indicated that the US strike on Friday crossed 'red lines' and they would respond to any new aggression.
But this morning, former MI6 head Sir John Sawers warned that tensions with North Korea were actually a much bigger threat to world peace than the war in Syria.
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“If you are looking for a world crisis which could bring about the dangers of a clash between great powers then North Korea is a bigger concern than Syria,” he told BBC Four’s Today programme.
“I think what the Chinese are beginning to understand is that if this can’t be solved peaceably through negotiations, through pressure, then there is serious risk that the US will have only one option left, which is the military option.”
He said that the Americans have strengthened forces in the Korean Peninsula, deployed a battle group and demonstrated that the “US was willing to use force against another state to uphold international order”.
Inside North Korea: The pictures Kim Jong-un doesn't want you to see
Mon, April 10, 2017
Since 2008, photographer Eric Lafforgue ventured to North Korea six times. Thanks to digital memory cards, he was able to save photos that was forbidden to take inside the segregated state
Eric Lafforgue/Exclusivepix Medi
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Taking pictures in the DMZ is easy, but if you come too close to the soldiers, they stop you
He added: “This is all part of a move, part of a calculation by the Trump administration that North Korea has to be treated very seriously, a very high priority.
“And ultimately it needs a joint US Chinese approach to deal with this unless we are to avoid a further conflict on that peninsula.”