Malcolm Turnbull has discussed the North Korean crisis with US President Donald Trump amid speculation the rogue nation is preparing to fire an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The Prime Minister told reporters this morning that it was a "very good call", "very warm" and "very constructive".

The leaders spoke for about half an hour on the call that was scheduled for 7.45am AEST.

"Naturally we focused on the threat posed by North Korea. We are absolutely of the one mind in condemning this reckless conduct," Turnbull said.


It's understood the leaders agreed that now was the time for the international community to exert maximum diplomatic and economic pressure, and that the can could not be kicked down the road.

When asked whether President Trump gave any indication of what steps he might take against North Korea, Turnbull said "a lot of our conversation I can't go into".

But Turnbull said the two leaders discussed the importance of enforcement of the current sanctions regime and of extra sanctions, which are under consideration, being imposed in the future.

"While we both recognise that China is not responsible for North Korea's conduct ... China does have the greatest leverage by far and we will both continue to encourage China to bring more economic pressure to bear on North Korea to bring this regime to its senses."

The battle against Islamic State was also discussed, particularly its presence in the Philippines. They agreed that the terrorist group, also known as ISIS and ISIL, should not be allowed to obtain a foothold in South East Asia.

"Both Australia and the United States are providing assistance to the Philippines government in that struggle to clear that ISIL insurgency out of Marawi," Turnbull said.

The two leaders also discussed flood and hurricane damage in the US and Mr Turnbull said he expressed sympathy for those impacted.

It's understood they spoke about increasing cooperation and collaboration on how to better protect communities from natural disasters.


It was hoped this morning's discussion would be more productive than their famous telephone clash over a refugee deal early in Trump's presidency.

Trump has been discussing the heightening tensions in recent days with other world leaders including Germany's Angela Merkel and South Korea's Moon Jae-in.

The call comes after North Korea was observed moving what appeared to be an ICBM towards its west coast, where it has launch facilities.

An unidentified intelligence source told South Korea's Asia Business Daily the rocket started moving on Monday, a day after North Korea's sixth nuclear test.

There has been speculation North Korea may be planning to fire an ICBM this weekend when the republic celebrates its foundation on September 9.

Turnbull told coalition MPs at a partyroom meeting on Tuesday that the action of North Korea was "reckless, dangerous and provocative".

He echoed the US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley who said the regime seems to be "begging for a war".

Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong will meet leaders in South Korea and Japan later in the month.

He hoped for talks with political leaders and government officials.

"Labor will always work cooperatively with our partners and allies at this crucial time to address the security challenges in the region," he said.

"A change of government will not affect Australia's strong support for both nations at this dangerous and challenging time."

Shorten also said he was pleased about the phone call between Trump and Turnbull.

"North Korea's open defiance of China's urgings is the clearest example of the contempt it shows for all nations - regardless of ally or not," he said in a statement.

"Australia must use its influence wherever possible to promote a peaceful resolution to this crisis, and I hope this phone call goes some way to achieving this."