Beijing/Pyongyang AFP-JIJI, AP
Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt arrived Monday for what the politician called a private trip to North Korea, where a U.S. citizen is being held awaiting trial.
“This is a private humanitarian mission, not connected to the U.S. government,” Richardson said at Beijing’s airport before boarding his flight. “We’re going to be in Pyongyang, probably for 2½ days. We may go outside the city. We will find out when we arrive.”
“This is not a Google trip, but I’m sure (Schmidt’s) interested in some of the economic issues there, the social media aspect. So this is why we are teamed up on this,” Richardson said, without elaborating on what he meant by the “social media aspect.”
Richardson also said he would raise with the North the matter of an American detained there last month on suspicion of committing unspecified “hostile” acts against the state that could draw a sentence of 10 years of hard labor. He’ll also try to meet with the detainee, he said.