US: North Korea talks could begin within a week

The United States says stalled international talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons program could resume in China within the next week. Meanwhile, a senior US lawmaker said he planned to travel to North Korea next year to improve relations with the reclusive, communist-led nation that tested a nuclear weapon in October. Rep. Tom Lantos, who is set to become chairman of the International Relations Committee when Democrats take control of the House of Representatives in January, said he had no firm date set for his trip. But he anticipated going in the first part of 2007, provided progress is made at the suspended six-nation talks aimed at persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons programs in return for aid and security assurances. "I believe that as visits to North Korea become more routine and more regular, we will be creating a climate of greater confidence, diminished distrust," said Lantos, who has traveled to the North twice before. "I see no merit in no dialogue."