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South Korea’s Unification Ministry has rejected the North’s latest offer as an attempt to win economic aid.

“If the South Korean authorities sincerely want the improvement of North-South relations, they should clear away useless doubt and open the door of their minds and actively respond to our proposal for dialogue and goodwill measures,” Min Kum-song, a North Korean official, told Associated Press Television News in Pyongyang on Tuesday.

Mr. Gates said he wants to see North Korea take specific steps, such as a moratorium on nuclear and missile tests, to show that it is serious about disarmament talks.

Mr. Gates said he wants to make sure North Korea is not rewarded for brinksmanship. He said the North has a pattern of bargaining by provoking a crisis, “and then everybody scrambles diplomatically to try and put Humpty Dumpty back together again. I don’t want to buy the same horse twice.”

Associated Press writer Kim Kwang-tae contributed to this report from Seoul.