Reports from South Korea say North Korea has invited the U.S. special envoy for the communist nation to visit next month for talks on its nuclear arms program.
If the reports in South Korean media are accurate, the trip by U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Bosworth would mark the first official nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang under the Obama administration.
The U.S. Embassy in Seoul did not immediately comment on the reports.
On Monday, the United States welcomed high-level contact between North and South Korea, but said no progress was made on ending Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said Washington supports a dialogue between the North and South, as well as meaningful steps that lead to a reduction of tension on the Korean peninsula.
But he added that the U.S. has not seen any real progress toward its goal of engagement with North Korea to discuss the denuclearization issue in the six-party context.
Earlier Monday, senior U.S. envoy Philip Goldberg said Washington is cooperating closely with South Korea to ensure United Nations sanctions against the North are carried out.
After meetings with South Korean officials in Seoul, Goldberg said the United States will keep pressure on North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program.
On Sunday, a North Korean delegation sent to pay respects to late South Korean President Kim Dae-jung met with current President Lee Myung-bak and delivered a verbal message from the North’s leader, Kim Jong Il.
Mr. Lee’s office denied newspaper reports Monday that Mr. Kim had asked for a summit to resolve bilateral problems.
A spokesman for Mr. Lee said the president reminded the delegation of his consistent policy that South Korea will help the North only if it gives up its nuclear weapons ambitions.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.