South Korean officials say they are optimistic that North Korea will soon resume talks on its nuclear weapons programme.
The minister in Seoul responsible for inter-Korean relations, Jeong Se-hyun, has said he thought the North would accept the security assurances being offered by the United States.
Mr Jeong told his North Korean counterparts to seize the opportunity because the doves now had the upper hand against the hawks in Washington.
North Korea has been insisting on a bilateral non-aggression treaty with Washington in exchange for dismantling its suspected nuclear weapons programme, but the Bush administration says the rest of the region must be involved in any settlement.
North Korea claims to have produced a stockpile of weapons-grade plutonium in recent months and says it will soon show off its nuclear capabilities.
From the newsroom of the BBC World Service