A top U.S. envoy and Japan's defense chief have agreed that "dialogue and pressure" are the best tactics for getting North Korea to give up its suspected nuclear weapons programs.
The meeting between defense chief Shigeru Ishiba and visiting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly on Tuesday was meant to help clear the way for a second round of multilateral talks on the North Korean nuclear dispute.
After the meeting, Defense Agency Director General Ishiba told reporters that Japan and the United States have agreed to continue "dialogue and pressure" to persuade Pyongyang to halt its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Mr. Ishiba says resolving the matter diplomatically and peacefully does not mean accepting everything North Korea demands. He adds it would be unacceptable for Pyongyang to benefit from making threats and trying to possess nuclear bombs and weapons of mass destruction.
After Monday's meeting with Japanese officials, Mr. Kelly said discussions about a second round of six-way talks were positive, but a date has not been set.
Chinese Foreign Minister spokesman Liu Jianchao says North Korea is sending encouraging signals about its willingness to join fresh talks.
Mr. Liu says the Chinese side welcomes the signal by North Korea. It demonstrates the sincerity of North Korea and is conducive to achieving the goals of resuming the dialogue.
Mr. Kelly arrived in Beijing on Tuesday and will travel on to Seoul.
Prospects for new talks brightened recently after diplomatic visits to Pyongyang by Chinese officials. China is one of the few allies of the isolated Stalinist state.
In another encouraging sign, North Korea's official news agency on Sunday indicated Pyongyang was backing away from demands for a non-aggression treaty with Washington before it gives up its nuclear programs.
The first round of talks about the North Korea nuclear dispute took place in August. They involved the United States, both Koreas, China, Japan and Russia and ended inconclusively.
Meanwhile, the head of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization, the consortium in charge of building power plants in North Korea, says he briefed officials on the suspension of plant construction.
The executive, Charles Kartman, says he told North Korean officials that construction of the multi-billion dollar power plants, which do not use materials that can be used in bombs, would stop for one year. The consortium was building plants as part of the 1994 Agreed Framework between the United States and North Korea.
The crisis surrounding North Korea's nuclear capabilities began 13 months ago when Washington said Pyongyang admitted having a secret nuclear development program in violation of the 1994 accord.