The White House says it will see whether North Korea’s interest in opening talks with the US marks the first step toward removing nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says President Donald Trump remains committed to achieving the “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation” of the peninsula.
Ms Sanders says the US, South Korea and others agree denuclearisation must be the result of any dialogue with North Korea.
Her statement comes in response to a statement earlier on Sunday from the presidential office of Olympic host South Korea saying that North Korea had expressed willingness to hold talks with the US.
Ms Sanders says President Trump’s “maximum pressure campaign” must continue until North Korea abandons its nuclear and missile programs.
Mr Trump imposed new sanctions on North Korea last week.
North Korean state media accused the US of provoking confrontation on the Korean peninsula with the sanctions, but the White House said its sanctions would continue.
“We will see if Pyongyang’s message today, that it is willing to hold talks, represents the first steps along the path to denuclearisation,” the White House said in a statement.
“In the meantime, the United States and the world must continue to make clear that North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs are a dead end.”
Ivanka ‘had no interaction with North Koreans’
Ivanka Trump has had no interaction with North Korean officials during her visit to South Korea, a White House official says, amid keen interest in whether the two sides will resume dialogue.
Ivanka, daughter and “adviser” to US President Donald Trump, led the US delegation to the closing ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics the same day.
She was seated close to the North Korean delegation, led by senior ruling party official Kim Yong-chol.
“There was no interaction with the North Korean delegation,” the senior White House official said in a statement, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“The US Presidential delegation’s attendance at the closing ceremonies was the culmination of a successful trip where we celebrated the Olympic Games, US athletes and our strong alliance with South Korea.”
Mr Trump and the rest of the delegation congratulated South Korean President Moon Jae-in and first lady Kim Jung-sook on “an incredible Olympic Games and applauded throughout the ceremonies including for the US and South Korean athletes”, the senior White House official said.