U.S. officials rejected North Korea's contention that Americans must hold bilateral talks after Pyongyang released two U.S. journalists from custody.
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who met with two visiting North Korean diplomats in New Mexico, said North Korea believes its gesture of releasing the journalists to former President Bill Clinton should be reciprocated with bilateral talks.
"They feel, the North Koreans, that by giving us the two American journalists, that they've made an important gesture," Richardson told CNN. "And now they're saying the ball's in our court."
CNN reported officials in the Obama administration, however, said the six-nation talks on North Korea's denuclearization (in return for massive aid) are still the right forum for a dialogue. Elsewhere the White House is quoted as saying they remain hopeful about improved relations with North Korea.
Richardson also said he was not negotiating on the president's behalf and that he would only relay the information.