South Korea suggested yesterday that the United States take a bold initiative toward North Korea along the lines of the Nixon administration's overtures to communist China in the 1970s.

Secretary of State Colin S. Powell said the South Korean suggestion could be "on the table" after North Korea satisfies the United States on its nuclear and weapon programs.

South Korean Foreign Minister Yoon Young-kwan, speaking in Washington before a meeting with Powell, said, "Our government has been doing our best by saying that sometimes it may be better to take a bold initiative to North Korea."

He cited President Richard Nixon's decision to send then-Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger to China in 1971, which ended decades of hostility and helped to prepare the ground for changes in Chinese domestic and foreign policy.

Nixon followed in 1972, and the two countries establish diplomatic relations in 1979.

"I think the same approach can be applied to North Korea. After all, North Koreans were eager to have a good relationship with the United States for more than 10 years," Yoon told students, academics, diplomats and reporters.

The Bush administration has minimized its contacts with the North Korean government, rebuffing North Korean overtures for a direct dialogue.