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State Dept to Eric Schmidt: Don’t Go to North Korea

He will go as part of a delegation led by former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson

Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt is proposing to "privately" visit North Korea, a rogue nation as well as an open market.

He will go as part of a delegation led by former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, a former American ambassador to the United Nations who has been to North Korea a number of times.

The State Department wishes Schmidt wouldn't go and has said he and Richardson know so.

However, a State Department spokesperson told the press in diplomatic-speak that "Frankly, we don't think the timing of this is particularly helpful, but they are private citizens and they are making their own decisions."

The immediate problem is North Korea's December 11 launch of a long-range rocket that deployed a satellite into space, a move even the United Nations Security Council condemned as a violation of its prohibition on the country's covert tests of long-range missiles.

North Korea is aiming to develop a nuclear-tipped warhead that would reach California.

There's talk that the delegation is on a Jesse Jackson-style mission of mercy to spring a Korean-American tour guide arrested by the Korean junta in November on unknown charges.

A North Korean delegation also visited Google last year and boy dictator Kim Jong Un has just started talking about using science and technology to extricate his country from the mire it's in by digitizing schools and factories.

Schmidt is believed to be trying to exploit that situation despite the fact that North Korea is one of the most repressive regimes in the world and has the most restrictive Internet policy anywhere.

It's not clear who Schmidt and Richardson expect to meet.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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