TOKYO - North Korea has renewed an invitation to U.S. special envoy Stephen Bosworth to visit Pyongyang, Japan's Kyodo news agency reported, in a signal that it wants to return to nuclear talks, albeit on Pyongyang's terms.
The impoverished North also made a rare request to South Korea for humanitarian aid at a meeting of their Red Cross societies on Friday.
South Korea, once a major donor of aid for the North, said it would consider resuming food aid afterwards, the South's Yonhap News reported, citing a source.
U.S. evangelist Franklin Graham, who was in North Korea this week to organize food aid, told Kyodo that Pyongyang was very positive about holding talks with Washington.
The invitation has been extended, Graham, who heads the U.S. aid organization Samaritan's Purse, said, quoting a North Korean official.
The North has had longstanding ties with the Graham family, including Graham's father, evangelist Billy Graham. The family has led several food aid missions from Christian charities for the impoverished state.
Kyodo said Graham met North Korean officials including Kim Kye Gwan, its envoy to the dormant six-party nuclear talks.
I think they are very positive about holding talks with the United States, Graham said.
The report coincided with further mixed signals from the North, promising to return to the talks on ending its nuclear program while raising regional tension by launching short-range missiles and accusing South Korean ships of entering its waters.
The talks involve the two Koreas, China, the United States, Japan and Russia.
The North has previously invited Bosworth to Pyongyang for talks. U.S. President Barack Obama's administration has neither accepted the proposal nor ruled it out.
At Friday's Red Cross meeting, the two Koreas discussed having another round of reunions for families split by the 1950-53 Korean War and possibly resuming food aid, but failed to bridge differences, according to Yonhap.
North Korea does not produce enough food to feed its 23 million people and had been seeking a resumption of South Korean aid in return for holding more reunions.
The two Koreas held their first family reunions in nearly two years at the end of September.
(Reporting by Yoko Kubota in TOKYO and Jon Herskovitz in SEOUL; Editing by Ron Popeski)