MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ A federal judge on Tuesday ordered Northwest Airlines and the union representing its flight attendants to resume negotiations.

Judge Donovan Frank, who last week ordered the union to take steps to stop its members from staging a ``sickout'' over stalled contract negotiations, gave both sides until Friday to choose a private mediator or give him a list of mutually acceptable mediators.

In his order, Frank wrote, ``The time has long since passed for the parties to reach a fair and appropriate contract.'' He indicated a settlement would be in the public interest.

Officials with Northwest and the Teamsters Local 2000 did not return phone calls seeking comment.

The union of 11,000 Northwest flight attendants has been seeking a new contract since September 1996. In late August, Local 2000 members overwhelmingly rejected a tentative agreement that had been endorsed by union negotiators.