The Obama administration will send Ambassador Stephen Bosworth to Pyongyang for direct talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons program.
Bosworth, the Special Representative for North Korea policy, will depart after President Obama returns from a week long trip to Asia, that includes a two day stop in Seoul, South Korea.
This will be the first direct talks between the US and North Korea in more than a year, the first since President Obama took office.
According to senior administration officials, Mr Obama decided to dispatch Bosworth after months of discussions with US allies in Asia over how to reengage with the North Koreans. The meeting will focus on resuming the six-party talks (between North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the US) to end North Korea's nuclear program.
For the first time in seven years there was face-off today between North and South Korea off the west coast of the Korean peninsula. Ships from both countries exchanged fire in long-disputed territory. The North Korean ship was damaged, set on fire, and returned to port.
With President Obama's upcoming trip to the region, some saw the move as provocation. "There are a lot of 'gung-ho elements in the North Korean government willing to take risks,' Kerry Brown, a Korea expert for London's Chatham House, told Fox News' Greg Palkot.
And yet others think it was a mistake. "It was an unplanned incident," Andrei Lankov, Seoul-based Korea expert told Palkot, "They are in their 'Be Nice' period," he added.
Yet since President Obama took office, North Korea has tested a series of missiles and detonated a nuclear device earlier this spring. Of course, it can be interpreted that
Pyongyang has been making overtures to the West, starting with the visit by former President Clinton to gain the release of two American held journalists.
Aboard Air Force One, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters the Obama administration is aware of the Naval clash and urged restraint on the part of North Korea.
"I would say to the North Koreans that we hope that there will be no further actions in the Yellow Sea that can be seen as an escalation," he said, referring to the body of water where the shooting took place, which Koreans in both North and South call the West Sea.
Fox News' Greg Palkot contributed to this report.