US secretary of state Rex Tillerson has offered reassurance to North Korea that "we are not your enemy".
He said the United States does "not seek a regime change. We do not seek a collapse of the regime. We do not seek an accelerated reunification of the peninsula".
But Mr Tillerson said the US does not think productive talks would result if North Korea came with the intention of maintaining their nuclear weapons.
He continued to push for Chinese help to keep pressure on North Korea because of their special economic relationship.
Mr Tillerson said the North Korean problem is not China's fault, but China must help create conditions for productive talks.
Mr Tillerson and North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong Ho are both attending a South East Asia summit in Manila next week, but have no plans to meet.
The summit is expected to focus heavily on concerns about the North.
Susan Thornton, the top US diplomat for Asia, said Mr Tillerson does not plan to meet with Mr Ri.
The US has been pushing for talks with North Korea over ending its nuclear programme but says conditions for talks have not yet been met by Pyongyang.
Ms Thornton said the US expects a "general chorus of condemnation" of North Korea during the summit.
She said she anticipates "pretty serious diplomatic isolation directed at the North Korean foreign minister".