UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Monday welcomed a South Korean proposal to hold high-level talks with North Korea and urged Pyongyang to accept the offer.
Ban, a former South Korean foreign minister, said dialogue was the only way forward to build trust and promote relations on the peninsula, which has been divided since 1945.
Ban's spokesman said the secretary general "sincerely hopes that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea authorities positively consider the proposal and engage in dialogue.
"He will not spare any efforts to support such meaningful engagement."
Ryoo Kihl-Jae, the South's unification minister in charge of North Korean affairs, offered on Monday to hold the rare high-level talks in January, in Seoul or in the North's capital Pyongyang.
The last round of formal high-level talks was held in February and resulted in the North hosting a rare union of relatives separated by the conflict.