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Leon Panetta

In Asia, Mattis to face allies seeking answers on NKorea

As international defense chiefs gather at a conference in Singapore this week, U.S. officials will face a barrage of questions from allies struggling to unravel the chaotic fits and starts of American and North Korean diplomacy.

Will there actually be a summit? Is North Korea really willing to give up its nuclear program? Will America pull troops out of South Korea? What does the on-again, off-again summit confusion say about the stability of broader U.S. policy-making? And, is it all just doomed to fail?

At this point, the visiting Americans may have very few answers as high-level diplomacy plays out back at home.

Speaking to reporters traveling with him to the...