A South Korean newspaper said on Monday that US President Barack Obama may send an envoy to North Korea to break the impasse in relations.
Obama is considering allowing New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson - a veteran troubleshooter with the North - to accept an invitation to visit Pyongyang, according to the JoongAng Ilbo and its English-language sister paper JoongAng Daily.
The JoongAng Daily, quoting "multiple diplomatic sources" in Seoul, said Han Song-Ryol, deputy North Korean ambassador to the United Nations, invited Richardson in May to discuss issues including the sinking of a South Korean warship.
South Korea's foreign ministry had no immediate comment.
"I'm aware that the North Korean side told Richardson it is willing to consider expressing regrets or making an ameliorating statement about the Cheonan incident if he visits Pyongyang," the paper quoted one source as saying.
"The North Korean government is seeking a chance to turn around the situation through Richardson since it's been driven into a corner after the Cheonan attack."
Tensions have risen since South Korea and the United States, citing the findings of a multinational investigation, accused the North of torpedoing a South Korean warship, the Cheonan, near the tense sea border in March.
The North angrily denies involvement and says a UN Security Council statement on July 9 - which condemned the attack without specifying the culprit - proves its point.