The United States has issued a visa to North Korean Foreign Minister Ho Tam to attend a meeting of non-aligned nations next week at the United Nations, the State department said yesterday.

Tam's appearance will mark the first time that such a high official from North Korea has been in this country, although 13 North Koreans who are members of a U.N. observer mission live in New York.

Department spokesman Tom Reston said Tam was granted a visa in 1973 but chose not to come. He said it was routine practice to issue visas to foreign diplomats seeking to take part in U.N. activities.

Administration officials said they did not expect any meeting between Tam and any U.S. representative.

Questions on a possible meeting were raised after a speech Monday by Sen. George McGovern (D-S.D.), who told a conference of Japanese and U.S. legislators here that the United States should "take the lead in starting talks with North Korea on military problems."

Saying that "it is time for a complete reappraisal of the U.S. diplomatic policy toward korea," McGovern said the talks should "embrace all possible means of halting the military competition and reducing tensions between the North and the South." He also charged that South Korean President Park Chung Hee "has made statements indicating that he does not rule out a surprise attack against the North."

The South Korean embassy here had no comment on Tam's impending visit but its ambassador Young Shik Kim, released a letter he had just written to McGovern saying his nation's policy is "purely defensive and rules out any surprise attack against the North."

Kim, calling McGovern's comments on Park "totally untrue," said the objective of South Korea "is to be sufficiently strong militarily, to safeguard our own security. It is a defensive policy aimed at making ourselves strong enough to deter any resumption of hostility and thus prevent another Korean War."

U.S. policy, reiterated by Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance in a speech June 29 to the Asia Society in New York, supports the entry of both North and South Korea to the United Nations "without prejudice to the ultimate reunification of the two countries."

Vance also stressed that the U.S. is "prepared to move toward improved relations with North Korea provided North Korea's allies take steps to improve relations with South Korea."

Regarding any negotiations to replace the 1953 armistice with a more permanent arrangement between the two countries. Vance suggested talks between the United States, Koreas and China.