U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has denied the United States is being inflexible at the six-party talks in Beijing on North Korea's nuclear ambitions.
But Mr. Powell told reporters Monday the Bush administration is holding to its position the negotiations should result in the verifiable dismantling of Pyongyang's nuclear program.
He also said the United States would not prevent other parties at the talks from extending aid to North Korea before a final disarmament deal is reached.
Earlier, North Korea repeated an offer to freeze its nuclear activities in exchange for emergency aid. Both Japan and South Korea have said they are willing to consider the deal.
Delegations from the United States, China, the Koreas, Russia and Japan engaged in preliminary talks Monday. Formal negotiations begin on Wednesday.