Kim-Jong-Un News North Korea

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump have signaled their affection for each other so regularly it might be easy to miss rising fears that the head-spinning diplomatic engagement of the past two years is falling apart. Pyongyang has issued increasingly dire warnings to Washington to mind a year-end deadline to offer some new initiative to settle the nations’ decades-long nuclear standoff. Failure could mean a return to the barrage of powerful North Korean weapons tests that marked 2017 as one of the most fraught years in a relationship that has often been defined by bloodshed, deep mistrust and regular threats. As the deadline approaches, and as the North’s propaganda machine cranks up its warnings, here’s a look at how high-stakes diplomatic wrangling in one of the most dangerous corners of the world might play out: THE DEADLINE: HOW SERIOUS IS IT? North Korea has previously issued deadlines it doesn’t follow through on as a way to try to get what it wants in negotiations. But despite the usual skepticism, there are signs that Pyongyang means business this time. South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency has reported that Seoul is taking the year-end deadline seriously and is working on “contingency plans” with the United States, which has been trying, and failing, to get North Korea back into serious talks before time runs out. The chief U.S. nuclear negotiator warned recently that the North could turn to provocations if the deadline is unmet. When diplomacy broke down at a…

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