After meeting with South Korean officials in Seoul, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters the United States is open to negotiations with North Korea to "keep the crisis from escalating."
The South Korean capital is the second stop on a whirlwind tour of Asia, 10 days after North Korea tested a nuclear bomb underground.
While Rice was in Seoul, China sent a high-level delegation to Pyongyang to deliver a message from President Hu Jintao to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. The Chinese did not disclose what was in the message.
Rice's trip to Asia is aimed at boosting support in South Korea and China for sanctions against North Korea.