Game for talks: on the resumption of dialogue between the two Koreas

The prospect of a thaw in relations between North and South Korea, which resume talks after two years, holds out the hope of denuclearisation on the Peninsula. Lending the move diplomatic heft is the U.S.’s consent to South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s proposal to delay the controversial joint military exercises between the two allies. These annual operations have traditionally caused consternation in Pyongyang. The significance of the U.S. decision can also be seen in the context of Beijing’s suggestion for a freeze on joint military exercises between Washington and Seoul in exchange for a halt to Pyongyang’s nuclear programme. The demand acquired added impetus ever since Seoul launched the U.S.-backed Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system, raising fears that its radars could snoop on Chinese security infrastructure. But the idea never received serious consideration from the U.S., as forcing Kim Jong-un, the North Korean autocrat, to completely give up the programme was the singular focus of President Donald Trump’s approach. As for Mr. Kim, he sees recognition of his country as a nuclear power as a vantage point from where he could negotiate a roll-back of crippling international sanctions and a possible reconciliation with Washington. The immediate trigger to the revival of dialogue is the Winter Olympics in Pyeong Chang in South Korea next month. North Korea’s latest ballistic missile launches and nuclear explosions have raised global alarm over the region’s safety for travel and tourism, not to mention security during the Games. Memories of the downing by North Korea of a civilian aircraft ahead of the 1988 Seoul Olympics have prompted understandable caution by the host nation. Seoul has apparently determined that the most effective means of allaying those apprehensions is to confirm the participation of North Korean athletes. The deferment of the joint military exercises with the U.S. lends further credibility to Mr. Moon’s overturesto the North, as much as it assuages Chinese concerns. Beijing had imposed an unofficial blockade on South Korean trade, tourism and entertainment following the THAAD missile installation last year. But it was quick to appreciate the needless economic and diplomatic cost of that approach, even if it did not alter its stance on the missile programme. Cumulatively, these developments should boost public patronage in the entire region for the Winter Olympics. Mr. Moon, a former human rights lawyer, has been a staunch advocate of a negotiated resolution of the North Korean nuclear stand-off. A votary of reunification on the Peninsula, he may be expected to seize the momentum generated by these events to foster cooperation with the North. There will no doubt be many obstacles on that ambitious path. But a détente between neighbours is a possibility few leaders can ignore.
1) Thaw
Meaning: An increase in friendliness or cordiality.
Example: “a thaw in relations between the USA and the USSR”
Synonyms: Cordiality, Friendliness
2) Denuclearisation
Meaning: To remove nuclear weapons from a place
Example: The documents detailing proposals for denuclearizing the region were leaked to the press.
3) Heft
Meaning: Ability or influence.
Example: “they lacked the political heft to get the formulation banned”
4) Consternation
Meaning: A feeling of anxiety or dismay, typically at something unexpected.
Example: “to her consternation her car wouldn’t start”
Synonyms: Dismay, Anxiety
Antonyms: Satisfaction
5) Impetus
Meaning: Something that makes a process or activity happen or happen more quickly.
Example: “the ending of the Cold War gave new impetus to idealism”
Synonyms: Motivation, Stimulus
6) Snoop
Meaning: Investigate or look around furtively in an attempt to find out something, especially information about someone’s private affairs.
Example: “your sister might find the ring if she goes snooping about”
Synonyms: Pry, Enquire
7) Vantage point
Meaning: A place or position affording a good view of something.
Example: “from my vantage point I could see into the front garden”
Synonyms: Point of view, Standpoint
8) Roll-back
Meaning: An occasion when the influence of particular laws, rules, etc. is reduced
Example: The telephone company has asked for a roll-back of leasing rules.
9) Crippling
Meaning: Cause a severe and almost insuperable problem for.
Example: “developing countries are crippled by their debts”
Synonyms: Ruin, Destroy
Antonyms: Boost
10) Reconciliation
Meaning: The restoration of friendly relations.
Example: “his reconciliation with your uncle”
Synonyms: Reunion, Conciliation
Antonyms: Estrangement, Alienation
11) Prompted
Meaning: Cause someone to take a course of action.
Example: “curiosity prompted him to look inside”
Synonyms: Induce, Motivate
Antonyms: Discourage
12) Apprehensions
Meaning: Anxiety or fear that something bad or unpleasant will happen.
Example: “he felt sick with apprehension”
Synonyms: Anxiety, Alarm
Antonyms: Confidence
13) Overtures
Meaning: An approach or proposal made to someone with the aim of opening negotiations or establishing a relationship.
Example: “he began making overtures to British merchant banks”
Synonyms: Proposal, Approach
14) Assuages
Meaning: Satisfy (an appetite or desire); make (an unpleasant feeling) less intense.
Example: “an opportunity occurred to assuage her desire for knowledge”
Synonyms: Satisfy, Alleviate
Antonyms: Intensify
15) Patronage
Meaning: The support given by a patron.
Example: “the arts could no longer depend on private patronage”
Synonyms: Assistance, Backing
16) Stand-off
Meaning: A deadlock between two equally matched opponents in a dispute or conflict.
Example: “the 16-day-old stand-off was no closer to being resolved”
Synonyms: Deadlock, Stalemate
17) Détente
Meaning: The easing of hostility or strained relations, especially between countries.
Example: “his policy of arms control and detente with the Soviet Union”

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