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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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November 10th, 2014
07:30 PM ET

Experts question timing, motivations of North Korea hostages release

(CNN) - North Korea released two American hostages over the weekend and the former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea does not think the timing is coincidental.

"The timing is clearly that they want to kind of take the edge off the summit meeting between President Obama and [Chinese President] Xi Jinping to try to give those in China some ammunition to say, 'look, the North Koreans are doing something. Can't you Americans talk to them?,'" says former ambassador Christopher Hill, referring to world leaders currently gathered for an economic summit in Beijing.

Hill is doubtful the strategy will work, however, as "the problem is the North Koreans have essentially refuted everything they previously agreed to and have shown no inclination to come back to talks for the purpose of even discussing their nuclear program."

Jamie Metzl, former Clinton National Security Council member, remarked that North Korea's "charm offensive" may also be an effort to deter pending crimes against humanity charges.

"They have had a charm offensive over the last couple of months with at least a preliminary effort to try to head off that referral," Metzl said. "It's a big deal and North Korea has to be at least somewhat concerned about global legitimacy. As long as they have a lifeline to China, they need to worry less. As that umbilical cord connecting North Korea to China weakens, they need to look for alternatives. Right now, they're pretty isolated."

For more of our interview with Hill and Metzl, watch the video above.

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