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Talks ease fears

Reuters
Saturday, January 13, 2018

WASHINGTON - Talks between North and South Korea ahead of next month's Winter Olympics have eased fears of war over Pyongyang's development of nuclear missiles capable of hitting the US — at least for now.

But North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has shown no sign of willingness to give in to US demands and negotiate away a weapons program he sees as vital to his survival, so any reduction in tensions could prove shortlived.

Rhetoric on all sides may have moderated as a result of the first round of intra-Korean talks in more than two years on Tuesday, but US officials say hawks in President Donald Trump's administration, up to and including Mr Trump himself, remain pessimistic that they will lead anywhere.

In recent days, in a series of media leaks, US officials have spoken of the president's willingness to consider a limited preemptive strike on North Korea to change Mr Kim's mind-set, despite the risk of touching off a war.

But there are divisions within the administration.

National security adviser HR McMaster has been the most vocal of Mr Trump's aides arguing for a more active military approach, while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and the military leadership have urged caution, stressing the need to exhaust diplomatic options, according to five officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.








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