China's Xi urges France to help restart talks on North Korea

FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron (L) shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) during a bilateral meeting on the second day of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, 08 July 2017. REUTERS/Ian Langsdon/POOL

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese President Xi Jinping told President Emmanuel Macron on Friday he hoped France could play a “constructive role” in restarting talks on North Korea, state TV said.

The French presidency said the two leaders had agreed in a telephone call on the need to put more international pressure on Pyongyang to get it back to the negotiating table and avoid a dangerous escalation.

Chinese TV quoted Xi as saying: “The Korean peninsula nuclear issue in the end can only be resolved through peaceful means, including through dialogue and consultations.”

North Korea has tested a string of missiles this year, including one flying over Japan, and conducting its sixth and biggest nuclear test on Sunday.

China hosted on-again, off-again six-party talks on North Korea, including Japan, Russia, the United States and the two Koreas, that fizzled out in 2008.

Experts believe the isolated regime is close to its goal of developing a powerful nuclear weapon capable of reaching the United States, something U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to prevent.

Xi discussed North Korea in calls with Trump on Wednesday and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday.

Trump has urged China, North Korea’s only major ally, to do more to rein in its neighbor.

Reporting by Michael Martina and John Irish; Editing by Nick Macfie and Robin Pomeroy