Beijing (CNN) -- New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson says he hopes to "to bring down the temperature in the Korean peninsula" during his trip to North Korea.
Richardson, a former U.N. ambassador, will be in North Korea Thursday on a four-day visit with officials during a tense time in the region.
Both Koreas have traded tough talk and conducted aggressive military drills in the weeks after North Korea shelled a South Korean island last month.
Richardson, who spoke to CNN Thursday at a layover in Beijing as he waited to fly to Pyongyang, North Korea, said he hopes he can help the situation even if it is just "a little bit."
Richardson said he will try to get "North Koreans to curtail their aggressive behavior, to see if there is some basis for negotiations, to get them to stop the uranium enrichment."
Richardson, who has hosted a North Korean delegation in New Mexico in the past, said he hopes his past relationships will help.
The governor said he was invited to the nation by North Korea's senior nuclear negotiator Kim Gye Gwan and the meeting comes at a very pivotal time.
Tensions are "the highest I've ever seen. I've been involved with North Korea for the last 10 to 15 years," Richardson said. "I can't remember when the tension were as high as it is now. And you worry about some kind of action hastening a potential war. And we have to avoid that at all costs."
CNN's "The Situation Room" Anchor Wolf Blitzer and Jo Kent contributed to this report