North Korean officials would be willing to meet the Trump administration for negotiations "if the conditions are set", a top Pyongyang diplomat said.
Choi Sun-hee, the top North Korean diplomat who handles relations with the US, spoke briefly to reporters in Beijing on Saturday en route to Pyongyang.
She was travelling from Norway, where she led a delegation that held an informal meeting with US experts.
Ms Choi did not elaborate on what the North's conditions are but her comments raise the possibility of North Korea and the US returning to negotiations for the first time since 2008, when six-nation talks over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme fell apart.
President Donald Trump opened the door this month to talks, saying he would be "honoured" to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Tensions have mounted in recent months after the Trump administration said it would keep "all options on the table" to halt North Korea's nuclear weapons programme, including a military strike.
The North responded by pledging to retaliate with a devastating nuclear counter attack, a threat it has made in the past.
In recent weeks, North Korea has arrested two American university instructors and laid out what it claimed to be a CIA-backed plot to assassinate Kim. Ms Choi did not address the matter of the detained Americans on Saturday.
In Norway, Ms Choi met with former US officials and scholars for what are known as "track 2" talks.
The talks, which cover a range of nuclear, security and bilateral issues, are held intermittently, and are an informal opportunity for the two sides to exchange opinions and concerns.