North Korea said on Saturday it was willing to resume six-nation nuclear disarmament talks but would not be "hasty" because the United States and some other parties were not ready.
The statement from a foreign ministry spokesman gave no indication of whether Pyongyang has dropped its preconditions: a lifting of sanctions and separate talks with Washington on a permanent peace treaty.
The North is ready for a six-party resumption "but decided not to go hasty but to make ceaseless patient efforts now that the US and some other participating countries are not ready for them", the spokesman told the official Korean Central News Agency.
The North remains willing to implement a September 2005 accord on denuclearising "the whole Korean peninsula", it said. The US withdrew atomic weapons from South Korea in the early 1990s.
The spokesman was commenting on a visit to talks host China by First Vice- Foreign Minister Kim Kye-Gwan, which ended Saturday.
China, the North's sole major ally and economic lifeline, is pressing to restart the dialogue.
Kim, who for years was his country's chief nuclear negotiator, held discussions on the resumption of the talks and the regional situation, the news agency said.
The stop-start talks grouping the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia began in 2003.
The 2005 deal, confirmed by another accord in 2007, offered energy aid and diplomatic and security benefits including talks on a peace treaty in exchange for denuclearisation.
The North quit the forum in April 2009 and held its second nuclear test a month later. It has indicated several times it is willing to return if its conditions are met.
Prospects for renewed negotiations have been clouded by South Korean and US accusations that the North torpedoed one of Seoul's warships in March, a charge it denies.
The United States says the North must mend relations with the South and show sincerity about nuclear disarmament before the six-party talks can resume.
The 1950-53 Korean War ended only in an armistice and without a formal peace treaty.