UN chief: Any US-North Korea talks must focus on denuclearizing Korean peninsula

A U.N. spokesman says Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon believes any dialogue between the United States and North Korea should focus on the goal of denuclearizing the Korean peninsula.

U.N. deputy spokesman Eduardo del Buey said Monday that Ban also believes inter-Korean dialogue is key to defusing tensions and ensuring peace on the peninsula.

Ban's spokesman was asked to comment on North Korea's surprise proposal Sunday to hold nuclear and security talks with the United States without preconditions. The offer followed months of rising tensions and anti-American rhetoric by North Korea and last week's collapse of the North's proposed high-level talks with South Korea amid bickering over who would lead the two delegations.

Ban was heading to China on Monday for high-level talks with China's new leaders.