SEOUL — Six U.S. congressmen next week are to visit Russia and several Asian countries, including North and South Korea, according to a House Armed Services Committee member’s spokeswoman.

The trip is an effort by the Bush administration to jump-start the stalled six-party talks meant to explore North Korea’s suspected nuclear program, said Angela Sowa, spokeswoman for Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa.

The tour, led by Weldon, will be the first congressional visit to North Korea since the White House discouraged such trips in May 2003.

Weldon’s trip follows other Asian tours by U.S. envoys and Secretary of State Colin Powell as the United States tries to persuade the Pyongyang regime to return to the table. North Korea attended meetings in 2003 and early 2004 but failed to show for talks last fall and since has accused the United States of having a hostile policy toward the communist country.

Weldon visited North Korea in early 2003. Sowa said next week’s trip is meant to build on the dialogue from two years ago.

“[The trip is] in part is to stop at all of the countries that are involved in the six-party talks,” she said, adding the tour includes China, Japan, North Korea, Russia and South Korea.

“Congressman Weldon is also hopeful that with an ongoing dialogue the delegation can continue to address important issues such as nuclear weapons production, drug trafficking and human rights that have prevented the United States and North Korea from working together in the past,” she said.

The visits come after the United Nation’s top nuclear watchdog, International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei, told the Reuters news service that North Korea’s lack of cooperation in the six-party talks is making the situation more dire.

It was unclear whether the group would visit any military bases. As of Thursday, the schedule was still being planned, she said.

Other members of Congress making the trip, Sowa said, are Roscoe G. Bartlett, R-Md.; Eliot L. Engel, D-N.Y.; Soloman P. Ortiz, D-Texas; Silvestre Reyes, R-Texas; and Fred Upton, R-Mich.

The group is to start in Russia, then go to North Korea, South Korea, China and Japan. The members of Congress also may visit some of the Asian areas damaged by last month’s tsunamis, Sowa said.

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