Bill Richardson, a former US ambassador to the UN, has been invited to visit North Korea by the nation's top nuclear negotiator. It could be a bid to avoid confrontation after weeks of tensions.
Amid signs that North Korea's Kim Jong-il is paving the way for his Swiss-educated son to assume power, analysts caution that his youth, and need to prove himself, could pose risks for the US.
North Korea accused the US Monday of aggressive military moves in the zone separating the two Koreas. The North is undergoing a leadership transition.
Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad restated his opposition to nuclear weapons at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) conference this week. But analysts say that an Iran capable of building a nuclear bomb is something that the US may have to get used to.
Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad argued at the NPT Review Conference that the US, the only nation to use a nuclear bomb in war, has not lived up to its promises of nonproliferation. Iran seeks help from the NPT to level the playing field.
The former president was in Pyongyang Tuesday seeking the release of two American journalists. But talks could go beyond that.
Economic sanctions are designed to send a strong message without prompting a belligerent backlash.
In vowing to restart its nuclear-weapons program, the pariah nation could be trying to win concessions from the US or it could be setting out a new strategy.