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With Koreas talking again, should U.S. be worried?

9 3 98

North Korea is starting off the new year with a fresh diplomatic initiative aimed at wooing South Korea ahead of its hosting of next month's Winter Olympics. But it's sticking to a decidedly harsh — and familiar — message for U.S. President Donald Trump: back off and let Koreans solve their own problems.

North Korea's state-run media have been hitting the "one Korean nation" theme hard since leader Kim Jong Un struck a surprisingly conciliatory tone toward Seoul in his annual New Year's address. And as high-level negotiators from both sides met Tuesday for the first time in more than two years, the North amped up its anti-Washington, anti-Trump criticism.

It's a tack North Korea has taken many times in the past. But it generally hasn't gotten very far.

The North's hopes for reunification negotiations that favor its position while excluding or minimizing the role of the United States are a tough sell in the South, which has a strong military alliance with Washington, benefits tremendously from being a trusted and close trading partner with the U.S. and has good historical cause to be wary of the North's bait-and-switch tactics.

With that backdrop, Tuesday's talks were by design incremental and exploratory. It's hard to imagine any major breakthroughs or policy shifts by the South on the biggest issues — denuclearization foremost among them — without........

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