WASHINGTON — The Obama administration said Sunday it was receptive to North Korea's proposal for high-level talks, but wants "credible negotiations" that will lead to a nuclear-free North.
"Those talks have to be real. They have to be based on them living up to their obligations, to include on proliferation, on nuclear weapons, on smuggling and other things," said Denis McDonough, President Barack Obama's chief of staff.
"So we'll judge them by their actions, not by the nice words that we heard," he said.
The National Defense Commission headed by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un issued a statement through state media proposing "senior-level" talks to ease tensions and discuss a peace treaty formally ending the Korean War.
"I will say that the bottom line is they're not going to be able to talk their way out of the very significant sanctions they're under now," McDonough told CBS' "Face the Nation."
Tensions have risen as a result of North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket in December and a nuclear test in February.
North Korea's offer is expected to be discussed in meetings this week in Washington involving U.S., Japanese and South Korean officials.
"Our desire is to have credible negotiations with the North Koreans, but those talks must involve North Korea living up to its obligations to the world," including U.N. resolutions, and "ultimately result in denuclearization," National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.