The US rejected a North Korean proposal to discuss a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War because it did not address denuclearisation on the peninsula, the State Department says.
State Department spokesman John Kirby made the comment on Sunday (local time) in response to a Wall Street Journal report that the White House secretly agreed to peace talks just before Pyongyang's latest nuclear bomb test.
The newspaper, citing US officials familiar with the events, said the Obama administration dropped its condition that Pyongyang take steps to curtail its nuclear arsenal before any peace talks take place, instead calling for North Korea's atomic weapons program to be just one part of the discussion.
Pyongyang declined the proposal and its January 6 nuclear test ended the diplomatic plans, the newspaper reported.
"To be clear, it was the North Koreans who proposed discussing a peace treaty," Kirby said in an emailed statement.
"We carefully considered their proposal, and made clear that denuclearisation had to be part of any such discussion. The North rejected our response," he said. "Our response to the NK proposal was consistent with our longstanding focus on denuclearisation."
The isolated state has long sought a peace treaty with the US and other parties in the 1950-53 Korean War, as well as an end to military exercises by South Korea and the US, which has about 28,500 troops based in South Korea.
North Korea said on January 6 it had tested a nuclear device it claimed was a hydrogen bomb, provoking condemnation from its neighbours and the US. Weeks later, it launched a long-range rocket carrying what it called a satellite, prompting renewed criticism.
On January 16, Pyongyang had demanded the conclusion of a peace treaty with the US and a halt to US military exercises with South Korea to end its nuclear tests.
But US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said then that Pyongyang needed to demonstrate by its actions that it was serious about denuclearisation before any dialogues could start.