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N Korea at crossroads

North Korea's demands for economic aid push South into a corner

South Korea is sending envoys to Pyongyang on Wednesday ahead of Moon-Kim summit

Kim and Moon at their second summit in Panmunjom in May.   © Reuters

SEOUL -- Pyongyang's push for economic aid from Seoul is forcing South Korean President Moon Jae-in to make some tough decisions ahead of a summit with Kim Jong Un later this month.

The U.S. opposes the provision of economic assistance until it sees North Korea taking concrete steps toward denuclearization. But Moon -- a self-styled mediator between the U.S. and North Korea -- is keen to avoid a collapse in the diplomatic process and a return to last year's tensions on the peninsula.

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