Washington, Tokyo and Seoul have also held a series of high-profile war games near the Korean Peninsula over the past months, amid an ongoing standoff over Pyongyang's
development of ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads, as both South Korea and Japan - despite tense relations amid disputes over history and territory - are allies and look to the US for their security.
Foreign Minister Taro Kono's comments in Canada come as North and South Korea discuss Pyongyang's
plans to participate in the Winter Olympics.
Despite these positive developments, it would be a mistake to equate Pyongyang's
rapprochement-in-the-making with Seoul as an indication of its willingness to negotiate the future of its ICBM program with Washington.
A conflict between the North and the United States could have devastating consequences for Asia's fourth-largest economy, with Seoul within range of Pyongyang's
vast conventional artillery forces.
president to visit North Korea in 1994 and met with then North Korean leader Kim Il Song after bilateral ties became tense due to Pyongyang's
Russia on Thursday made its harshest criticism yet of North Korea in the current crisis, describing Pyongyang's
actions as "categorically unacceptable".
Some hawks have suggested bombing Pyongyang's
But the Bush administration continued the Clinton policy of oil, cash, food, and technology bribes for Pyongyang's
promises of good behavior.
This is a fairly new trend in Pyongyang's
approach to its neighbors.
In 1996, one of Pyongyang's
spy submarines landed on South Korean shores; in reaction, Seoul suspended its share of energy assistance; Pyongyang retaliated with typically inflammatory rhetoric.
Not so obvious, however, has been Pyongyang's
interest in the Moonies.
dramatic attempt to launch a satellite in 1998 failed.
During their summit Tuesday in Pyongyang, Koizumi and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il agreed to resume normalization talks in October despite Pyongyang's
acknowledgment of the deaths of eight people abducted to North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s.
The United States and North Korea will hold talks in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday in a bid to end Pyongyang's
missile program that could pave the way for a visit to North Korea by President Bill Clinton, White House spokesman Jake Siewert said Monday.
But behind the scenes, American and North Korean officials are preparing for official ties in the form of liaison offices agreed to in the 1994 framework talks that froze Pyongyang's
nuclear weapons program, Satterwhite said.