By Ludovic EHRET
China issued a stern warning Friday that a conflict over North Korea could break out "at any moment", as Pyongyang vowed a "merciless" response to any US military action.
Tensions in the region have surged to fresh heights in recent days with speculation mounting that the North is preparing a sixth nuclear test.
A US naval strike force has been deployed near the Korean peninsula, and President Donald Trump has issued stark warnings that the threat posed by Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme "will be taken care of".
A clearly rattled China, under pressure from Trump to prevent any North Korean provocation, said the situation had reached breaking point.
"One has the feeling that a conflict could break out at any moment," Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said.
"If a war occurs, the result is a situation in which everybody loses and there can be no winner," he added during a joint press conference in Beijing with the visiting French foreign minister.
Wang's comments mirrored a warning from the North Korean foreign ministry's Institute for Disarmament and Peace that "thermo-nuclear war may break out any moment".
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