WASHINGTON- Former U.S. diplomat Bill Richardson said on Friday he and Google executive Eric Schmidt will make a “private humanitarian visit” to North Korea, partly aimed at securing the release of an American detainee there.
His remarks come a day after U.S. State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland said the timing of the trip was “not particularly helpful,” citing North Korea’s launch of a long-range rocket in December.
Richardson said he invited Google Inc executive chairman Schmidt, who he said was traveling as a private citizen. “This is not a Google trip. He’s interested in foreign policy, he’s a friend of mine, and I felt it was important that there be a broader perspective of our visit, with Eric going and some other members of our staff.”
Richardson, who has made a number of trips to North Korea and negotiated with it on various issues, said, “There’s an American detainee in North Korea, Kenneth Bae. I heard from his son who wants to get him released.”
Richardson said he understood the State Department was “a little nervous,” but he and Schmidt had already postponed the trip from December at its request.