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South Korean activists wear the masks of South Korean President Park Geun-Hye, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and President Obama. / Jung Yeon-Je, AFP/Getty Images

President Obama practices the diplomatic equivalent of marriage counseling Tuesday when he meets with the leaders of Japan and South Korea.

Korean President Park Geun-Hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe - and their nations - have long been at odds, complicating U.S. efforts to deal with China's ambitions and North Korea's nuclear weapons.

Abe and Park have barely spoken since taking office more than a year ago.

Obama, Abe and Park meet on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, Netherlands.

The New York Times says of the Abe-Park dispute:

"Their antagonism is complex and deeply personal, rooted in World War II history as well as their own conservative and nationalist political leanings, which make old animosities even harder to overcome.

"The feud has been a growing source of anxiety for the White House, not the least because of worries that China could use the ill will to drive a wedge between America's two key allies in Asia. That would give China a freer hand in the East China Sea. Divided, Japan and South Korea are also less effective in pressuring North Korea over its nuclear program."



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

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