North Korea rebuffed US effort for peace talks: WSJ

A sales assistant watches TV sets broadcasting a news report on North Korea's nuclear test, in Seoul, January 6, 2016.
Kim Hong-Ji | Reuters
A sales assistant watches TV sets broadcasting a news report on North Korea's nuclear test, in Seoul, January 6, 2016.

The Obama administration initiated a clandestine diplomatic effort to engage North Korea on ending tensions on the Peninsula—only to be rebuffed by the Communist regime days before it launched another nuclear test, The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

The publication, citing U.S. officials familiar with the talks, said that U.S. diplomats were willing to cede on a key term: That Pyongyang first make an effort to curtail its nuclear arsenal. The U.S. called for North Korea's atomic weapons to be a point of the talks, but the regime of Kim Jong Un rejected that provision. Days later, North Korea tested a hydrogen bomb.

Read MoreWhy North Korea is stoking US power grid fears

State Department spokesman told The Journal that the secret talks were "consistent with our longstanding focus on denuclearization." The North Koreans were the ones who actually proposed a peace treaty, spokesman John Kirby added, but ultimately rebuffed the administration's terms.

The approach is similar to the controversial tack President Barack Obama adopted with its approach to Iran, but the WSJ said the White House sees North Korea as much less transparent and cooperative.

The full report can be found on the WSJ's website (note subscription may be required).