A top North Korean official has offered talks with the United States on Pyongyang's plans for a missile test, indicating that a launch could be put off, Yonhap news agency reported here on Wednesday.
"The United States says it is concerned about our missile test launch. Our position is, 'Okay then, let's talk about it,'" Han Song-Ryol, the deputy chief of North Korea's mission to the United Nations, told Yonhap.
He repeated Pyongyang's stance that it had every right to develop, deploy, and test-fire missiles and that it was not bound by a self-imposed moratorium.
"It is not right for others to tell us what to do about our sovereign rights," Han said. "Some say our missile test launch is a violation of the moratorium, but this is not true."
But he said that the moratorium had been respected in times of dialogue with Washington and Japan.
"When we were engaged in hectic dialogue with Washington and Tokyo for rapprochement, we said we would suspend missile test launches for the time when the dialogue was under way in order to help improve the atmosphere," the diplomat said.
North Korea was believed to be readying the launch of a Taepodong-2 missile that can carry a 1,000-kilogram warhead up to 6,700 kilometres, far enough to hit targets in Alaska and possibly Hawaii.
Pyongyang declared a moratorium on tests of long-range missiles in 1999 but said in 2005 that it would no longer be bound by it.