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Solving North Korea: Even allies have different priorities

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One reason North Korea is the world’s most dire nuclear hotspot is that among the most important players, even allies and semi-allies…
One reason North Korea is the world’s most dire nuclear hotspot is that among the most important players, even allies and semi-allies have different desires and priorities. An enemy to some, a bulwark to others, a frustration to all, with decades of unfinished business coloring the picture in ways unique to each nation.
North Korea’s successful launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile July 4 raised the heat on tensions that have been building for decades, leaving the international community scrambling for an answer to containing Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.
Below, Associated Press journalists who cover the standoff from both Koreas, Japan, China and the U. S. explain how each country hopes it is resolved.
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SOUTH KOREA
The ultimate dream for South Korea is clear: A unified Korean Peninsula, led by Seoul and its values.
The problem, of course, and the source of seven decades of animosity and bloodshed, is that North Korea harbors a mirror image of that ambition.
In the short term, what South Korea wants depends entirely on who you ask.
That group of elderly men in camouflage and combat boots who are burning an effigy of North Korea’s dictator on a Seoul street won’t have the same goals as the North Korea sympathizer who slashed the face of U. S. Ambassador Mark Lippert in 2015.
After a decade of hard-line conservative rule, the current government in Seoul is headed by liberal President Moon Jae-in who wants North Korea to stop conducting nuclear and missile tests so he can begin to implement an engagement policy.
That doesn’t look likely to happen any time soon.
Most average South Koreans support the presence of the 28,500 U. S. troops here, as long as crime isn’t a problem. They look with unease at North Korean provocations but seem to worry far less than the rest of the world about Pyongyang’s threats to annihilate the South.
What they really want is for the economy to soar.
— Foster Klug, AP’s bureau chief in Seoul, has covered the Koreas since 2005.
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NORTH KOREA
North Korea has made no secret about what its demands are. Nothing is more important to the North’s ruling regime than its own survival.
To that end, it wants Washington to abandon its “hostile policy” aimed at forcing the country into collapse.
In concrete terms, Pyongyang wants direct talks toward a peace treaty to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War, which was halted after what was supposed to be a temporary armistice. Signing a treaty would also mean formal recognition of North Korea by the U. S. government and entail some sort of a security agreement guaranteeing Washington will not attack the North.
In the interim, the North wants an end to huge military exercises the U.

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