WASHINGTON (AP) _ Retired Gen. Colin Powell will not attend next week's Million Man March in Washington because it conflicts with his previously scheduled book tour, a spokeswoman said today.

The Oct. 16 march for black men, conceived by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, falls on a day when Powell will be promoting his book in New York, said spokeswoman Peggy Cifrino.

Farrakhan telephoned to invite Powell before the retired general left for London on Saturday, she said. The former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff left open the possibility of attending because he did not have his schedule with him at the time.

Powell subsequently notified Farrakhan he could not make it, Cifrino said.

Asked about Powell's opinion of the march, which has split black leaders, Cifrino said, ``I believe he supports its purposes.''

The march has been billed as an event to instill responsibility and unity in black men and increase their political power.

Farrakhan, in an appearance Sunday on ABC's ``This Week with David Brinkley,'' said it was ``a day that we are calling on black men to stand up and take the responsibility of freedom, the responsibility of their wives and their children, and the responsibility of building our communities.''

But the event also has sparked controversy because of longstanding accusations against Farrakhan of bigotry. Some black churches and the NAACP are keeping away from the event, while civil rights leader Jesse Jackson and the Congressional Black Caucus have endorsed it.

Powell, who is considering a presidential bid, is promoting his memoir in London and Paris and returning to the United States on Friday.

O.J. Simpson defense attorney Johnnie Cochran Jr. was asked by CNN on Sunday if he and Simpson would participate in the march. Organizers said they invited Simpson and Cochran months ago.

``I'll be back East, but I don't think I'll be there,'' Cochran said. He didn't comment on Simpson's plans.