The White House stressed the economic sanctions must continue as Donald Trump continues to ramp up the pressure on Kim Jong-un.
In a statement, the White House said: “We will see if Pyongyang’s message today, that it is willing to hold talks, represents the first steps along the path to denuclearisation.
“In the meantime, the United States and the world must continue to make clear that North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs are a dead end.”
The statement from Washington comes as senior officials from Pyongyang visiting South Korea on Sunday said North Korea was open to talks with the US, according to the South’s presidency, hours after the North accused Washington of trying to stir up conflict on the peninsula with new sanctions.
In Pyeongchang for the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics, the visiting delegation also said developments in relations between the two Koreas and between North Korea and the US should go hand in hand, the South’s presidency said in a statement.
The delegation met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at an undisclosed location in the Olympic city.
Responding to the meeting, the US State Department said improved relations between South and North Korea hinged on resolving Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
A State Department spokesman said: “We are in close contact with the Republic of Korea about our unified response to North Korea. As President Moon stated, ‘the improvement of relations between North and South Korea cannot advance separately from resolving North Korea’s nuclear program.’”
Tensions have escalated today after North Korean state media accused the US of provoking confrontation on the Korean peninsula with Friday’s sanctions announcement.
Mr Trump, in announcing the new sanctions on Friday, warned of a “phase two” that could be “very, very unfortunate for the world” if the sanctions did not work.
North Korea denounced the sanctions in a statement carried on its state media and said a blockade by the US would be considered an act of war.
China also reacted angrily to the new US measures, saying on Saturday the unilateral targeting of Chinese firms and people risked harming cooperation on North Korea.