The United States is calling on North Korea not to test-fire a long-range missile and, instead, return to six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear program. Meanwhile, U.S. lawmakers called on China to, in their words, put more diplomatic pressure on its isolated neighbor.
White House spokesman Tony Snow said U.S. officials have been in close consultations, internally and with other countries, about the possibility of a North Korean missile test.
He told Fox News Sunday Washington's position is simple - it does not want North Korea to test-fire a missile.
"The North Koreans themselves decided in 1999 that they would place a moratorium on this kind of testing, and we expect them to maintain the moratorium," said Tony Snow.
He urged Pyongyang to return to the so-called six party talks on the North Korean nuclear crisis. He held out the possibility of what he called a "parallel track that could include some conversations with the United States."
Besides the United States and North Korea, the six party talks include China, South Korea, Japan and Russia. The process began in 2003, but the talks have been stalled since last year.
Meanwhile, the White House spokesman added that a North Korean missile test could draw possible U.S. retaliation, although he did not reveal any details. He spoke on CNN's Late Edition.
"If they go ahead with a test, then we will have to respond properly and appropriately, at the time," he said.
Also speaking on CNN, Republican Senator Pat Roberts pointed out that Washington has been focused on Iran and Iraq in recent months. He said new reports of a possible North Korean missile test are, to him, an indication of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's attempts to attract international attention.
"The only card he has to play on the world stage is to do something like this, " said Pat Roberts. "And, I think he has seen a lot of different headlines about a lot of different things, and I would not be surprised at all.
On the same program, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein said she does not want to see a hostile North Korea backed into a corner.
"In my view, the more a country is isolated, the more a country's behavior becomes renegade, and the less a country has to lose," said Dianne Feinstein. "And I think that very robust diplomacy, a greater pressure by the Chinese, really has to be made."
She pointed to South Korea's efforts to engage with the North, dubbed Seoul's "Sunshine Policy," as one effort that she says is having a positive effect. She added that she believes a gradual opening of North Korea, where hungry North Koreans are fed and get exposure to other points of view, is the way to go.