US special envoy Stephen Biegun has urged North Korea to come to the negotiating table, saying: “We are here, let’s get this done.”
His comments in Seoul come days after North Korea conducted missile tests at a satellite launch site.
North Korea has set an end-of-year deadline for the US to come up with a new denuclearisation deal that would involve significant sanctions relief.
It said the US could expect a “Christmas gift” if it did not comply.
Mr Biegun – the US special representative for North Korea – called Pyongyang’s statements “hostile, negative and so unnecessary”, adding that the US had a “goal… not a deadline”.
He called for Pyongyang to enter talks with the US, saying to his North Korean counterparts: “It is time for us to do our jobs. Let’s get this done. We are here and you know how to reach us.”
US President Donald Trump has said he will not lift sanctions until North Korea fully abandons its nuclear programme.
North Korea said if the US did not make an acceptable offer, it would find a “new way”.
What tests did North Korea carry out?
Pyongyang appears to have shut the door on further US talks, focusing instead on testing missiles.
On 8 December, it said it carried out a “very important test”. It held a second test less than a week later on 14 December.
- North Korea’s missile and nuclear programme
- North Korea crisis in 300 words
Both tests were said to be carried out at the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground – a site that North Korea had promised to dismantle.
It’s not clear exactly what was being tested – but Ankit Panda, North Korea expert at the Federation of American Scientists, told the BBC it could be a ground test for a ballistic missile engine.
How are US – North Korea relations?
The US and North Korea have reached a nuclear impasse.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his US counterpart Mr Trump held historic talks in Singapore in June 2018 and in Vietnam earlier this year aimed at denuclearisation.
They also held “impromptu” talks at the Demilitarised Zone that separates North and South Korea in June.
But talks have stalled since then – a recent meeting of officials in Stockholm ended without progress – and North Korea restarted testing of its short-range ballistic missiles.
North Korea also appears to have renewed its verbal attacks against Mr Trump for the first time in two years.
The foreign ministry said if Mr Trump was confrontational, it “must really be diagnosed as the relapse of the dotage of a dotard”.
The North first called Mr Trump a dotard, meaning old and weak, in 2017.