U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the latest talks aimed at easing tensions over North Korea's nuclear program have not advanced prospects for a peaceful settlement.

Mr. Rumsfeld says the Bush administration remains committed to seeking a diplomatic solution of the crisis over North Korea's nuclear program.

But speaking at the Pentagon, Mr. Rumsfeld suggested this week's talks between the United States, China and North Korea were not especially helpful.

"Clearly, the recent discussions have not moved the ball forward," he said. "But Secretary [of State Colin Powell and the president are working on the matter, and the hope is that it can ultimately be resolved through diplomatic means."

Mr. Rumsfeld declines to say whether there is an open military option for dealing with North Korea.

But Pentagon officials confirm bombers sent to Guam earlier this year in response to growing tensions with Pyongyang remain on the Pacific island.