"The United States will hold a fresh round of talks with North Korea on its nuclear weapons program next week and appoint a new full-time envoy as its seeks to deepen its engagement with the reclusive regime," U.S. officials and a Washington-based foreign diplomat tell The Associated Press.
North Korea's attack on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong comes during a difficult period for the isolated regime in Pyongyang.
It is going through a process of political succession, with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il seeking to ensure that his son Kim Jong Un is the country's next leader. At the same time, North Korea is facing new food shortages. In the past, weakness and uncertainty have sparked provocations like the Nov. 23 attack.
China resisted U.S. pressure to condemn North Korea on Wednesday, a day after Pyongyang shelled a South Korea-held island, killing four people and ratcheting tensions on the peninsula to new highs.
Late Wednesday, China issued its first official statement, which was notable for its failure to condemn or even criticize North Korea. Instead, a foreign ministry spokesman urged both Koreas to show calm and restraint, and to engage in talks.