President Donald Trump discussed North Korea's strongest nuclear test yet with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday, as the US proposed crippling new sanctions and world leaders tussled over whether pressure or dialogue was the best way to rein in the rogue nation.
The US wants the UN Security Council to impose an oil embargo on North Korea, ban its exports of textiles and the hiring of North Korean laborers overseas, and to subject leader Kim Jong Un to an asset freeze and travel ban, according to a draft resolution.
In a conversation Tuesday with Britain's Prime Minister, the White House says Trump stressed that "now is not the time to talk to North Korea" and that "all options remain open" to defend the USA and its allies.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday expressed his opposition to proposals to cut off oil supplies to North Korea, Seoul's presidential office said.
The United States is now urging new and tougher U.N. sanctions, including a ban on all oil and natural gas exports to North Korea, in response to the nuclear test.
The US has accused North Korea of "begging for war" and repeatedly urged China to step up pressure against its neighbour.
President Donald Trump stepped back from the possibility of imminent military action against North Korea on Thursday, saying such an event is neither inevitable nor preferable.
"We believe that sanctions and pressure are only half of the key to resolving the nuclear issue".
"Given the new developments on the Korean Peninsula, China agrees that the U.N. Security Council should respond further by taking necessary measures", Wang, the foreign minister, told reporters. "The other half is dialogue and negotiation".
The United States has long held that a nuclear North Korea is unacceptable, demanding the country end its weapons program.
China hopes North Korea will "see the situation clearly and come to the right judgment and choice", Mr Wang said.
The kind of nuclear deterrence policy that the United States adopted toward the former Soviet Union would probably not work with North Korea, the official said.
"We are very concerned that North Korea might not be able to be deterred, that there are real differences between North Korea and the small, small group of nations that have these weapons", the official said.
Kim would be added to a United Nations sanctions blacklist, subjecting him to a global travel ban, along with four other North Korean officials. He and May agreed to continue work on "increasing diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea".
"We've left the door open to talks with the North Koreans from the earliest days of this administration", said an official, noting that Pyongyang has responded with ballistic missile tests, Sunday's test of what it claims was a hydrogen bomb and other provocations.
Trump, in a joint appearance with the Kuwaiti emir, said attempts at diplomacy with Pyongyang had failed over the past decades.
"Any new actions taken by the global community against the DPRK should serve the objective of curbing the DPRK's nuclear and missile programs, while at the same time be conducive to restarting dialogue and consultation", he said, referring to North Korea by the initials of its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.