A White House spokesman said Thursday that the United States was open to "authentic and credible" discussions with North Korea -- if it were to show a willingness to abandon its nuclear ambitions. But early signals from Pyongyang were less than enthusiastic.
Aboard Air Force One as President Barack Obama was headed to Boston, spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters that U.S. officials would be willing to negotiate, but would "need to see clear evidence" that the North was "willing to live up to international obligations."
"So far we have not seen that," he added. "Belligerent actions ... actually indicate the opposite of that."
North Korea's response through its state media agency KCNA seemed unlikely to change that perception.
A statement attributed to the policy department of North Korea's National Defense Commission laid down tough conditions under which the North might consider coming to the bargaining table.
Among the North's demands were that the U.S. work to reverse sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council over Pyongyang's continued nuclear tests. "They should bear in mind that doing so would be a token of good will towards the DPRK," or Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the statement said.
Less easy to define was a demand that the U.S. "stop all provocative acts against the DPRK and apologize for all of them."
The statement appeared to refer to the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle joint military exercises conducted by U.S. and South Korean forces when it demanded that the U.S. "give formal assurances before the world that they would not stage again such nuclear war drills to threaten or blackmail the DPRK."
It additionally demanded that U.S. immediately "withdraw all nuclear war means from South Korea and its vicinity and give up their attempt to reintroduce them."
"They should bear in mind that the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula can begin with the pullout of the nuclear war means introduced by the U.S. and this may lead to the global denuclearization," the statement said.
NBC News' Stacey Klein contributed to this report.