[NEW YORK] US Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday urged North Korea to freeze its nuclear programme as a first step toward starting serious negotiations with the United States and the world about its future.
Speaking at a meeting with the Japanese and South Korean foreign ministers, Mr Kerry said the United States remains "deeply committed" to mutual defence and to "rolling back the provocative, reckless behaviour" of North Korea.
The United States is ready to hold talks with Pyongyang to discuss peace on the Korean peninsula, ending North Korea's isolation and economic development if it agrees to denuclearisation, he said.
"The immediate need is for them to freeze where they are, to agree to freeze and not to engage in any more provocative actions, not engage in more testing, particularly in order to bring countries together and to begin a serious negotiation about the future," said Mr Kerry.
North Korea this month carried out its fifth and biggest nuclear test, which followed a series of missile launches in violation of UN resolutions barring Pyongyang from developing nuclear and missile technology.
China, Pyongyang's ally, has been pushing for re-starting the six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear programme that would also involve the United States, Japan, Russia and South Korea.