Washington's No. 2 diplomat said the US is open to dialogue with North Korea if it helps get international nuclear disarmament talks started again, and urged the regime Wednesday to take advantage of the opportunity.
"There's a tremendous opportunity now for them to take a constructive measure," Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg told reporters in Seoul after meeting with South Korean officials. "They've certainly given some indication that they understand the value of re-engagement, and we would like to see them take advantage of that."
Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency stressed Wednesday that the nuclear dispute is strictly a matter between the North and the US, rejecting as "rubbish" and "ridiculous" South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's recent proposal aimed at resolving the dispute.
Steinberg reiterated Washington's position that it is prepared for direct engagement with North Korea if it helps to resume the six-party talks involving the two Koreas, the US, China, Russia and Japan. He said North Korea should make clear that Pyongyang also is "prepared to engage on those terms."