SKorea urges US to argue North Korea out of launching missile test

"Our government has the view that the U.S. administration should also be more actively involved in discussions" with North Korea, Lee Jong-seok said in a speech delivered to a research institute, Yonhap news agency reported.

Seoul has urged the U.S. to engage in direct talks with the North, but Washington has refused, Lee said.

A senior U.S. diplomat rebuffed criticism that Washington was being inflexible in refusing direct talks with North Korea, saying the U.S. was ready for bilateral talks at six-nation meetings on the North's nuclear program that Pyongyang has boycotted since last year.

"Frequent efforts to say both sides are equally inflexible is unfair," the diplomat told The Associated Press in an interview, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue. "The U.S. position is not rejecting direct talks, the North Koreans can have direct talks if they agree to six-party talks.

Still, technical reasons such as bad weather could also partially explain why the North hasn't yet fired its missile.