New York: In "cautious overtures” towards North Korea, American officials met the country's diplomats here while South Korea allowed some organisations to send condolences over Kim Jong-Il's death, signaling Washington and Seoul's readiness to engage with the emerging leadership in Pyongyang, a media report said.
   
A newspaper said the allies' desire not to provoke North Korea and to see a stable transition of power in Pyongyang was underlined when the government in Seoul allowed private organisations and individuals to send their condolences over the death of the North Korean leader.
   
Private groups like the foundation named after the late President Roh Moo-hyun, who had held a summit with Kim in 2007, were allowed to send their condolences by mail or fax.
   
The State Department said American officials had met North Korean diplomats at the United Nations after the announcement to continue discussions of possible food aid for the North.
   
"The gestures showed that Washington and the government in Seoul, which have expressed sympathy for the North Korean people but not explicitly for the regime, were signaling their readiness to engage with the emerging leadership of the government of Pyongyang when it was ready," the report said.
   
State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the talks in Beijing last week on continuing food aid were inconclusive and "we're going to have to keep talking about this". Given the mourning period, "frankly, we don't think we'll be able to have much more clarity and resolve these issues before the New Year".

South Korea however will not send a government delegation to Kim's funeral in Pyongyang on December 28.
   
It has allowed the families of former President Kim Dae-jung and the former Hyundai Chairman, Chung Mon-hun, to visit.
   
Kim Jong-Il's son Kim Jong-un was thrust into international spotlight when he was anointed to take over the reins from his father.
   
Shortly after the North Korean leader's death was announced on Monday, field training of the country's troops were cancelled and they returned to the barracks, orders given under the name of Kim Jong-un, an "indication that he was in control" of the North's 1.2 million-strong military, the report said.

Agencies