Powell's East Asia Trip to Focus on Bilateral Matters

Secretary of State Colin Powell (search) will visit Japan, China and South Korea next weekend, the State Department said Saturday, in what probably is an effort to restart six-nation talks about North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

The department said Powell would leave Friday and his discussions would deal with bilateral matters, regional security, stability "and issues such as the global war on terrorism, Iraq, North Korea and the six-party talks."

In Tokyo, the Japanese Kyodo news agency said Powell would be in Japan for two days, starting Saturday, and would discuss with Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura (search) not only North Korea but also the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan. The agency quoted Japanese government sources.

Powell's trip will take him to Beijing only days after a visit there by North Korea's No. 2 leader, Kim Yong Nam, head of the Presidium of North Korea's parliament. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue, in announcing Kim's visit, would not discuss what he will talk about.

The six-party talks include the two Koreas, the United States, Russia, China and Japan. Three rounds of talks, held in Beijing, have yielded little progress. A fourth round was set for September, but North Korea has refused to attend.