South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon held talks with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today (Monday) on the standoff over North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

The South Korean official told reporters in Washington that he and Ms. Rice had assessed the motivation behind North Korea's recent declaration that it has developed nuclear weapons. North Korea also said last week it would no longer participate in six-nation talks on its nuclear program.

Mr. Ban urged Pyongyang to return to the six-nation talks without preconditions. He said the reclusive communist country will have a much better future if it abandons its nuclear ambitions.

Later, a State Department spokesman also called on North Korea to return to the six-party talks.

The developments come hours after South Korea said it is too early to call the North a nuclear state because there is no independent verification of its claim.