The White House says it wants "credible negotiations" with North Korea that will lead to a nuclear-free North.
The Obama administration is responding to a proposal by North Korea's top governing body for high-level nuclear and security talks with the United States.
The U.S. says it always has favored dialogue, but that Washington will judge the North by "its actions and not its words."
National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden says North Korea must live up to "its obligations to the world," including complying with U.N. resolutions.
Tensions have risen as a result of North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket in December and a nuclear test in February.
North Korea's offer is expected to be discussed in meetings this week in Washington involving U.S., Japanese and South Korean officials.