Japanese and South Korean nuclear envoys held talks Thursday in Seoul, to explore further initiatives aimed at persuading North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program.
The meeting between Japanese negotiator Shinsuke Sugiyama and South Korean counterpart Lin Sung-nam comes just days before the duo travels to Washington for high-level nuclear consultations next week.
Last month, envoys from North Korea and the United States met in Beijing, just days before North Korea announced the death of longtime leader Kim Jong Il. Those talks, described by participants as positive, were aimed at persuading the North to rejoin a larger forum of countries seeking an end to Pyongyang's nuclear activities.
North Korea quit the six-party nuclear talks involving the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States in late 2008.
Western news reports had said the North was poised to announce an agreement with Washington to suspend its uranium enrichment program and accept international nuclear oversight of its nuclear activities, in exchange for urgently needed food aid.
Analysts say it is not yet clear whether Kim's successor and son, Kim Jong Un, will agree to suspend enrichment efforts.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.