TEHRAN (Press Shia) – A former Iranian ambassador highlighted China’s push to avert an escalation of tensions between the US and North Korea considering its extensive trade ties with Washington, but predicted that Beijing would stand by Pyongyang in case of flare-up of tensions.

In an interview with Press Shia, Iran’s former ambassador to Beijing Mahdi Safari said China is strongly opposed to the escalation of tensions between the US and North Korea.

Considering its extensive trade exchange with the US and its efforts to strengthen yuan, China is seeking to relieve the tensions and balance the situation through trade interaction with the US, he added.

However, Safari explained, if the conditions become critical, China will support North Korea, because it does not want to see the US gain a foothold in its proximity.

Tensions in East Asia have risen in recent weeks following North Korea's nuclear tests and missile launches.

North Korea has threatened to sink Japan and reduce the US to "ashes and darkness" for leading the latest UN Security Council sanctions imposed on the country.

Meanwhile, China has warned the US and North Korea to "hit the brakes" on threats and actions, and work towards a peaceful resolution of their dispute.