China's President Xi Jinping has urged his American counterpart Donald Trump to avoid escalating tensions with North Korea.
In a telephone conversation between the two leaders on Saturday, Xi said he wanted the US and North Korea to stay away from anything that would further aggravate the situation.
Xi's plea came hours after Trump ramped up his warnings to Pyongyang, saying the Stalinist regime would "truly regret" taking hostile action against the United States.
Relations between Washington and Pyongyang have been tense for months, in the wake of the North's repeated missile tests.
These include two successful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test launches in July that are believed to have brought much of the US mainland within North Korea's striking range.
North Korea raised hackles in the United States when it announced a detailed plan to send four missiles over Japan and towards Guam, an island territory in Pacific Ocean of some 165,000 people, where some 6,000 US soldiers are based.
The White House said in a statement that Xi and Trump "agreed North Korea must stop provocative and escalatory behaviour" and that they are both committed to the denuclearisation of the peninsula.
But the Chinese foreign ministry said Xi urged Trump to avoid "words and deeds" that would "exacerbate" the already-tense situation, exercise restraint and seek a political settlement.
"US ready to protect Guam"
Trump, the Republican billionaire, has progressively ramped up the tone throughout the week and on Friday declared that the US military is "locked and loaded" to take action against North Korea.
In a call with Guam Governor Eddie Calvo on Friday, Trump said the US military is prepared to "ensure the safety and security of the people of Guam."
Japanese media said Tokyo was deploying its Patriot missile defence system following Pyongyang's threat to fire ballistic missiles over the country towards Guam.