North Korea said that the United States had offered food aid and a suspension of sanctions if it halted its uranium enrichment program.
The comments by a foreign ministry spokesman to Pyongyang’s official news agency were the first by the North on the issue.
Before the sudden death of the North’s leader Kim Jong-Il on December 17, there were several media reports that such an agreement was imminent.
At talks in July last year, Washington “proposed to take confidence-building steps such as suspension of sanctions, as well as food aid” in return for a “temporary suspension” of uranium enrichment, the North’s spokesman said.
Experts say the uranium program disclosed in November 2010 could give the communist state a second way to make nuclear weapons. The disclosure spurred efforts to revive stalled six-party nuclear disarmament negotiations.
The US and North Korea last year held two rounds of bilateral talks aimed at restarting the negotiations last held in December 2008.
A third round was reportedly scheduled in Beijing before the announcement of Kim’s death put the process on hold.
The spokesman’s statement suggested that a deal was still on the cards if the US raised the amount of food it is willing to offer.
Washington says any decision to offer humanitarian food aid would not be linked to other issues, but the spokesman accused the United States of politicizing the issue.