North Korea did not retaliate as threatened after a South Korean military exercise that it had warned could lead to war.
At the same time, the North agreed to allow U.N. monitors access to its uranium-enrichment facility and take other steps that could defuse tension if implemented, including considering the formation of a military commission made up of representatives from the North, the South and the United States.
Those steps generated at least the possibility of rare optimism on the Korean peninsula, which has been gripped by anxiety since March.
The latest developments came amid a visit to North Korea by Bill Richardson, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and current governor of New Mexico.
"Maybe we had a little impact with them," he said Monday of the North Korean leaders.
"I think they deserve credit for holding back," he said. "I think North Korea may be sending a signal that they're ready to re-engage after having behaved very negatively."