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0106 Time until S. Korea-U.S. joint drills in late February critical to make positive turn in nuke talks: Experts
Updated: 2020-01-06 07:32:26 KST

North Korea has not crossed the 'red line' yet.
It has not declared an end to its talks with the U.S. and did not explicitly say it will resume its nuclear and ICBM tests.
But analysts say the prospects for North Korea-U.S. nuclear negotiations aren't so bright this year.
Through its ruling party central committee meeting, the North has said that it won't return to negotiations until the U.S. withdraws what it calls its hostile policies.
"Hostile policies" could mean a lot of things, but definitely included among them are the sanctions.
This is a higher bar for the talks than before -- the North wants sanctions relief in exchange for taking part in the negotiations themselves rather than actual steps toward denuclearization.
Plus, the North is ready to stick with this for the long term.

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"I believe the time period of January to February is a golden chance. By then, U.S. politics would have died down a bit from Trump's impeachment, and its negotiation team for North Korea would be ready again. So it's critical that South Korea and the U.S. are proactive in sending messages to North Korea in January and February."
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Meanwhile, the North said nothing about its relations with South Korea.
Seoul's Unification Ministry explained that this is because the North's ruling party gathering does not usually deal with inter-Korean relations.
But pundits have a different opinion.
They say the North doesn't consider inter-Korean relations a major factor that can influence the current political situation.

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"The North is deliberately singling out South Korea because it thinks that relations with Seoul will naturally follow once its relations with the U.S. improve. What the North wants most now is to get concessions from Washington, and in doing that, South Korea is not so useful from the North's point of view."
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The North has warned that it will continue to develop strategic weapons -- which refer to nuclear weapons or ICBMs.
And this is why analysts think that if circumstances are left as they are, then tensions could rise again on the Korean Peninsula.
A critical time point would be March.
If there aren't any developments before the Seoul-Washington joint military drills begin in late February, experts agree, it would be difficult for things to take a positive turn.
Oh Jung-hee, Arirang News.
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