The United States remains open to the idea of direct dialogue with North Korea within a six-way framework, a top envoy said on Tuesday.
Stephen Bosworth, special representative for North Korea policy, also said that while a threatened second nuclear test by Pyongyang was a step in the wrong direction, there was no sense of crisis regarding the six-party nuclear disarmament talks.
North Korea last month said it was quitting six-way nuclear talks and would restart a plant that separates plutonium from spent nuclear fuel rods in response to being punished by the United Nations for the April 5 launch of a long-range rocket.
Last week Pyongyang said it was useless to talk to the US administration because its "hostile policy" left it no choice but to bolster its nuclear deterrent.
Bosworth said Washington was still committed to dialogue.
"It is clearly understood the possibility of a direct dialogue between the US and DPRK (North Korea) is very much with us," Bosworth told reporters in Tokyo as he wrapped up his visits to China, South Korea and Japan.
"That of course would be done within the framework of the six-party process."
A delegation led by Bosworth has been trying to coax North Korea to return to sputtering six-way nuclear disarmament talks.
Bosworth said he confirmed the common interest in moving forward with officials from Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo. A US envoy, Sung Kim, will now travel further to Moscow, he added.
"I think everyone is relatively relaxed about where we are at this point of the process. There is not a sense of crisis," Bosworth said.
"Now we are going to proceed with patience and perseverance. We are committed to dialogue and we are obviously interested in returning to a negotiating table as soon as we can," he said.