The number two diplomats from the United States and South Korea held talks in Seoul Monday to discuss bilateral issues and North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, officials said.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken will spend three days in Seoul, the first leg of an Asia tour that will also take him to China and Japan.
After meeting Monday with South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Cho Tai-yong, Blinken said it was important to maintain sanctions on the North until Pyongyang shows it is serious about wanting to resume six-party denuclearization talks.
"The pressure that the international community has exerted on North Korea has made a meaningful difference in its ability to acquire materials for its weapons and missile program to put pressure on it to move in a different direction. But ultimately, this is a decision for North Korea to make. It has to decide whether it is serious about getting back to demilitarization and having credible and an authentic talks. We remain open to that, that is something that we will welcome but until North Korea demonstrates that they are serious, it is important to sustain the pressure on them and to sustain the solidarity in the international community," said Blinken.
Tensions between Washington and Pyongyang have been escalating since the U.S. slapped fresh sanctions on North Korea for allegedly launching a cyberattack on film studio Sony Pictures.
North Korea said last week that it saw no need to negotiate with Washington, and threatened nuclear strikes and cyberattacks in response to any U.S. aggression.