Time running out on North Korea’s deadline to US on nukes

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In this Nov. 26, 2019, photo, a man looks at a photo of the launch of a missile hanging on the wall of a factory workers' dormitory in Pyongyang, North Korea. Fears rise that North Korea's year-end deadline to the U.S. to offer some new initiative to the nuclear-standoff means that nearly two years of head-spinning diplomatic engagement might be in danger of falling apart. Sign in Korean reads; "Highest level." (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

PYONGYANG – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump have signaled their affection for each other so regularly it might be easy to miss rising fears that the head-spinning diplomatic engagement of the past two years is falling apart.

Pyongyang has issued increasingly dire warnings to Washington to mind a year-end deadline to offer some new initiative to settle the nations' decades-long nuclear standoff.

Failure could mean a return to the barrage of powerful North Korean weapons tests that marked 2017 as one of the most fraught years in a relationship that has often been defined by bloodshed, deep mistrust and regular threats.

As the deadline approaches, and as the North's propaganda machine cranks up its warnings, here's a look at how high-stakes diplomatic wrangling in one of the most dangerous corners of the world might play out:

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THE DEADLINE: HOW SERIOUS IS IT?

North Korea has previously issued deadlines it doesn't follow through on as a way to try to get what it wants in negotiations.

But despite the usual skepticism, there are signs that Pyongyang means business this time.