Continued from page 1

In Japan on Sunday, Mr. Kerry held a news conference with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, who said his country also is open to talks with North Korea if Pyongyang honors its agreements.

Mr. Kerry later told reporters traveling with him that a resumption of six-party talks would require North Koreans “to indicate their willingness to move toward denuclearization and come into compliance with the international standards” they’d agreed to.

He declined to specify what steps North Koreans would have to take, beyond saying that “they have to take some actions,” the extent of which he would discuss “with folks back in Washington.”

The secretary of state did say the Obama administration was open to possible “back channel” talks with North Korea but that he could not — and should not — elaborate on them.

“There are certain channels that we can reach out to,” Mr. Kerry said. “I’m not going to say that we have or haven’t at this point in time.”

“We are certainly always prepared to avail ourselves of them,” he said, adding that he “grew up in an age when I watched what happened with President Kennedy and the Cuban missile crisis where war was averted because people were willing to keep the back channel open and be creative.”

“We now celebrate it, but if it had been advertised ahead of time it probably would have been vilified and possibly even prevented.”

On Monday, Mr. Kerry spoke at the Tokyo Institute of Technology and stressed U.S.-Japan unity on the North Korea issue.