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Can renewed talks prevent war on the Korean Peninsula?

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in held a very polished press conference on January 10. He confidently laid out his domestic and foreign policy priorities for some 30 minutes. That address was followed by an hour-long exchange with the flock of journalists in attendance.

Yet the ease with which the event unfolded belied the difficulty Moon had in addressing questions about what may be the most important challenge for his administration: North Korea's fast-progressing weapons programme.

Just 10 days earlier, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's made an important New Year's speech. He reiterated his country's nuclear capabilities: "our Republic has, at last, come to possess a powerful and reliable war deterrent, which no force and nothing can reverse."

It was in that same speech that Kim hinted at the possibility of a return to peaceful engagement, floating possible North Korean participation in the Pyeongchang Olympics, to be held in South Korea next month. Seoul eagerly seized the olive branch and countered with an offer of dialogue the very next day. And on Tuesday, January 9, the two sides finally met for the first time in more than two years and agreed that the North would indeed send a delegation to attend the games.

Fortunately, it just might be enough to ease tensions and prevent war in the immediate future, Washington's wishes notwithstanding.

Defying sanctions after sanctions, North Korea has made major progress toward becoming a nuclear power. In summer 2017, tensions flared up as Pyongyang and Washington traded barbed........

© Al Jazeera