North Korea told China's visiting Prime Minister Wen Jiabao it will return to six-party talks it abandoned in April. But first, it wants bilateral talks with the US.
A Chinese delegation visited Kim Jong-il this week to press for reengagement on the North's nuclear program. The US, which has said it's open to talks, must deal with a deeply suspicious S. Korean leadership.
Many see Pyongyang's recent friendly gestures as a tactical move. The US moved Tuesday to freeze the assets of two North Korean entities, while South Korea accused the North of unleashing a deadly flash flood.
Seoul demanded an apology Tuesday after Pyongyang released without warning a torrent of dam water that killed six people in the South.
The US has long suspected that Pyongyang had this kind of nuclear program.
The North, which wants one-on-one talks with the US, said it's open to dialogue and had entered the "completion phase" of developing highly enriched uranium.
The North offered to engage in dialogue, and said sanctions would be met by an acceleration of its nuclear program.
Laura Ling and Euna Lee said North Korean soldiers dragged them across the Chinese border. The statement also raises questions about whether their guide lured them into a trap.
Media reports Tuesday suggest that Pyongyang is prepared to discuss its nuclear program with the US – a significant step back from recent brinksmanship.