Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton suggested the US is prepared to engage in direct talks with North Korea to encourage the communist country to rejoin negotiations over its nuclear programme.
But Clinton said there had been no formal decision on whether to accept a North Korean invitation for the US special envoy Stephen Bosworth to travel to Pyongyang.
Clinton said any such talks would be backed by allies in the region and would be intended to get North Korea to rejoin the so-called six-party talks that include China, Russia, Japan, US and the two Koreas.
"One of the ways that we perhaps can get North Korea to engage is by explaining directly and clearly what the purpose is and what the possible consequences and incentives would be," Clinton told reporters at the State Department in Washington.
"We are in the process of exploring that with our partners," Clinton said.
North Korea said in April it would no longer participate in the six-party talks and kicked out inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency. It conducted its second nuclear test in May.