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Germany’s Angela Merkel and China’s Xi Jinping agree to back harsher North Korea sanctions

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and China’s President Xi Jinping agreed Wednesday to back harsher sanctions against North Korea over its latest nuclear test, her spokesman said.

Speaking by telephone, the two leaders said they were “very concerned about the current situation in North Korea” after Pyongyang staged its sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date on Sunday, the spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said in a statement.

Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel. File photo: Ralf Roletschek via Wikimedia Commons.

The test “represents a significant danger to the security of the entire region and a serious violation of international law”.

“Both interlocutors called for a tightening of the sanctions against North Korea,” Seibert said.

“At the same time dialogue must be pursued to achieve a peaceful solution to the escalation.”

Earlier, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said that Beijing would support the United Nations taking further measures against North Korea due to the nuclear test.

However it remained unclear whether China would be willing to back, or enforce, new sanctions at the UN Security Council, where it is a veto-wielding permanent member.

Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping. File photo: Kremlin.

China, which is the North’s biggest diplomatic and economic supporter, is seen as key to efforts to convince Pyongyang to abandon its weapons programme.

Germany has repeatedly warned against any military response to the crisis and called for a peaceful, diplomatic solution.

Germany's Angela Merkel and China's Xi Jinping agree to back harsher North Korea sanctions