Robert Harneis –TDO-(FRANCE) In a surprising development in the North Korean crisis President Xi Jinping held a telephone conversation with his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, on the Korean Peninsula issue, stressing China's insistence that the peninsula be denuclearized.

Only a peaceful settlement through dialogue and negotiation can resolve the nuclear issue, Xi said, expressing hope that France, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, would play a constructive role in easing the situation and restarting dialogue.

Macron said France has been committed to maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. France attaches importance to China's peaceful approach to solving the issue, he said.

Macron said he is willing to enhance cooperation with China to push for a proper settlement of the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue.

The Chinese démarche confirms China’s widening approach to world affairs, reaching out to a French President who seeks to give a higher profile to French diplomacy. France has already sought to distance itself from the more belligerent statements coming out of Washington whilst at the same time taking a firm line against North Korea’s nuclear confrontation.

In August Macron demonstrated a degree of neutrality in the conflict, calling for ‘responsibility on all sides for the prevention of any increased tension’ after both Pyongyang and Washington had indulged in an unprecedented verbal confrontation.