New York: Two days of exploratory talks between the U.S. and North Korea ended with North Korea's envoy describing them as "constructive and businesslike" and expressing hope for continued talks.

Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan, emerging from the meeting on Friday with U.S. Ambassador Stephen Bosworth, the Obama administration's top envoy on North Korean affairs, characterised the talks as positive.

"Yesterday and today we discussed comprehensively, with Mr. Bosworth, (matters) of mutual interest," he said. "The talks were very constructive and businesslike and we continue to maintain contacts."

Bosworth said later the United States would consult with South Korea and other parties to the so-called six-party talks before taking additional steps.

The United States, China, Japan, South Korea and Russia have been negotiating since 2003 with Pyongyang to persuade North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons programs.

Pyongyang pulled out of the six-party talks in April 2009 after being censured for launching a long-range missile, and it vowed never to return.

This week's high-level meetings have raised hopes of a breakthrough in resuming the disarmament negotiations.

"These discussions are designed to explore the willingness of North Korea to take concrete and irreversible steps toward de-nucleation," said Bosworth.

"We reiterated that the path is open to North Korea for the resumption of talks to improve relations with the United States and greater regional stability if North Korea demonstrates through its actions that it supports the resumption of the six-party process as a committed and constructive partner," he said.

Pyongyang has recently expressed a willingness to rejoin the talks. But Seoul and Washington have insisted that inter-Korean ties must improve first following two attacks that killed 50 South Koreans last year.

(Agencies)