Washington (CNN) -- North Korea needs to "halt its provocative behavior" as tensions rise on the Korean peninsula, President Barack Obama said during a phone call with Chinese President Hu Jintao, the White House said.
Hu called for a "calm and rational response from all sides to prevent the deterioration of the fragile security situation," according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.
Because of the time difference, the phone took place Monday in China, but Sunday evening in Washington.
The call came ahead of scheduled talks Monday between U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the top diplomats of Japan and South Korea on the rising tensions in the region.
The conflict in the Koreas has intensified since November 23 when North Korean forces launched an artillery barrage that killed four people on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong. Pyongyang accused the South of provoking the attack, which also injured 18 people, because shells from a South Korean military drill landed in the North's waters.