The American secretary of state, Colin Powell, will visit Japan, China and South Korea later this week for talks on North Korea and the realignment of U.S. troops in the region.
Officials in Washington say Mr. Powell's meetings also will focus on regional security, terrorism and Iraq.
The secretary, who is leaving for Asia on Thursday, will look for ways to restart six-party talks on North Korea, which have been aimed at convincing Pyongyang to end its nuclear-weapons program. North Korea has declared it will not rejoin the talks, because of what it calls Washington's "hostile policy."
Many observers feel Pyongyang's stance is intended to delay any further negotiations until after the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 2, in the hope that changes in the U.S. administration will result in Washington dropping its opposition to bilateral talks with North Korea.
Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.