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Wednesday December 13th, 2017 4:07AM

The Latest: French leader urges calm in North Korea crisis

By The Associated Press
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the North Korea crisis (all times local):

10:20 a.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron has called on all sides in the North Korean nuclear crisis to act responsibly "to prevent any escalation of tensions" after a days-long war of words between Washington and Pyongyang.

In a statement Saturday, Macron said the situation "undermines the preservation of international peace" and the North Korean regime "poses a serious threat to the security of its neighbors."

Calling it "the responsibility of all," Macron called on the international community to "act in a concerted, firm and effective manner, as it has just done in the (U.N.) Security Council, to bring North Korea back to the path of dialogue."

France is a member of the Security Council, which approved fresh sanctions on North Korea this month for its recent intercontinental ballistic missile testing.

___

8:45 a.m.

President Donald Trump is seeking continued help from China's president in addressing the threat posed by North Korea's nuclear developments.

The White House says that Trump — in a phone call Friday to President Xi Jinping (shee jihn-peeng) — saluted Xi for China's U.N. vote to impose tougher sanctions on North Korea.

The two leaders also reiterated a commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

As the crisis has unfolded, Trump has alternated praising China for its help and chiding it for not doing more.

The White House says Trump also told Xi he looked forward to seeing him in China later this year.

___

7:20 a.m.

North Korea has lashed back at the U.S. following President Donald Trump's latest warnings.

In an editorial on Saturday, North Korea's Minju Joson newspaper said that the U.S. "finds itself in an ever worsening dilemma, being thrown into the grip of extreme security unrest by the DPRK. This is tragicomedy of its own making."

DPRK stands for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The paper said, "The powerful revolutionary Paektusan army of the DPRK, capable of fighting any war the U.S. wants, is now on the standby to launch fire into its mainland, waiting for an order of final attack."

It continued, "If the Trump administration does not want the American empire to meet its tragic doom in its tenure, they had better talk and act properly."

The comments came after Trump unleashed a slew of fresh threats against North Korea on Friday, declaring the U.S. military "locked and loaded."

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12:35 a.m.

Chinese state media say President Xi Jinping, in a call with President Donald Trump, said all sides should avoid rhetoric or action that would worsen tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

China Central Television on Saturday cited Xi as saying that Beijing and Washington are both interested in the denuclearization of the peninsula.

The report quotes Xi as saying: "At present, the relevant parties must maintain restraint and avoid words and deeds that would exacerbate the tension on the Korean Peninsula."

Trump has pushed China to pressure North Korea to halt a nuclear weapons program that is nearing the capability of targeting the United States. China is the North's biggest economic partner and source of aid, but says it alone can't compel Pyongyang to end its nuclear and missile programs.

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11:55 p.m.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he will do everything he can to protect the Japanese people as tensions escalate over North Korean plans to send missiles flying over Japan toward Guam.

Abe says: "I will do everything, to the best of my ability, to protect the safety and property of the Japanese people."

He made comments Saturday while visiting his father's tomb in his ancestral hometown of Nagato in western Japan.

On Friday, the Defense Ministry said it was deploying four of Japan's surface-to-air Patriot interceptors in western Japan to respond to a possible risk of fragments falling from missiles.

The ministry did not confirm whether Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera has already issued an order to shoot down incoming missiles.

___

10:45 p.m.

President Donald Trump has issued fresh threats of swift and forceful retaliation against nuclear North Korea, declaring the U.S. military "locked and loaded" and warning that the communist country's leader "will regret it fast" if he takes any action against U.S. territories or allies.

The president appeared to draw another red line that would trigger a U.S. attack against North Korea and "big, big trouble" for its leader, Kim Jong Un. Trump's comments, however, do not appear to be backed by significant military mobilization on either side of the Pacific, and an important, quiet diplomatic channel remains open.

Asked Friday if the U.S. was going to war, he said cryptically, "I think you know the answer to that."

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