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Photo: Dong-A Ilbo via Getty Images/Getty Images

Chung Eui-yong, South Korea's national security adviser, said on Sunday that the United States is “very actively” trying to convince North Korea to return to negotiations ahead of an unofficial deadline for dialogue, Reuters reports.

Background: North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un warned in October that the U.S. had until year’s end to take a "substantial step to make complete and irreversible withdrawal" of its "hostile policy." Chung said South Korea is taking North Korea's deadline "very seriously."

Why it matters: North Korean officials have warned the United States not to ignore the deadline and cautioned that the likelihood of restarting talks is shrinking. A North Korean official said Pyongyang expects reciprocal steps from Washington by the end of the year, according to Reuters.

What they're saying: Chung said South Korea has created backup plans if the deadline passes without any progress.

  • “Only if talks between high-rank officials happen and lead to substantial progress, will the third North Korea-United States summit be possible,” Chung said, according to Reuters.

The big picture: Denuclearization talks between the U.S. and North Korea have stalled since a meeting in February between President Trump and Kim in Hanoi left both leaders empty-handed. Since the breakdown of talks, North Korea has carried out multiple rounds of missile tests.

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