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International relations

US flexibility could ease tensions with North Korea

Washington should give 'freeze-for-freeze' option a chance

| China
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South Korean marines take part in joint U.S.-South Korean amphibious landing exercises in Pohang, South Korea, on April 2.   © Reuters

The Chinese and Russian proposal for a freeze on large-scale U.S.-South Korean military exercises in return for a freeze on further North Korean nuclear and missile tests just might work -- if only Washington could give it a chance rather than dismissing it out of hand.

Dubbed "freeze-for-freeze," the proposal undoubtedly came up in U.S. President Donald Trump's one-on-one discussions with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the recent G-20 summit in Hamburg. Although the U.S. had previously rejected a similar North Korean proposal, saying it made no sense for the U.S. to suspend lawful joint exercises with South Korea in exchange for a freeze on North Korea's unlawful activities, the proposal is worth serious exploration. Few other options remain.

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