Joseph Yun, special representative for North Korean policy at the US State Department, said the US is using what's called the "New York channel" to communicate with North Korean diplomats serving under Pyongyang's envoy to the United Nations.
"It has not been limited at all," the senior official told Reuters, "both [in] frequency and substance."
Yun has reiterated to North Korean emissaries to cease development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. "I cannot imagine a condition under which the United States would accept North Korea as a nuclear power," US Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters in Seoul on Saturday, where he met with South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo. "Diplomacy remains the preferred way" to deal with Pyongyang, Mattis added.
Speaking in Beijing on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Hua Chunying told reporters, "we encourage North Korea and the United States to carry out engagement and dialogue."
Trump's bellicose threats of "fire and fury" and total destruction of North Korea are believed to have diminished the likelihood that North Korean diplomats would be willing to sit down at the metaphorical negotiating table.
Meanwhile, there are reports that as many as 200 people may have died Monday following the collapse of an underground nuclear test site.