Google’s Schmidt urges N.Korea Internet freedom
Beijing: Google chairman Eric Schmidt told North Korea it will not develop unless it embraces Internet freedom, he said on Thursday as he returned from a controversial visit to the communist state with US politician Bill Richardson.
Richardson, the former US ambassador to the United Nations who led the trip, said he called on Pyongyang to adopt a moratorium on ballistic missiles & nuclear tests following the its widely criticised rocket launch last month.
Speaking at Beijing airport, he said efforts to “strongly urge” North Korea, a highly secretive & tightly-controlled country, to increase the use of the Internet were “the main success of the visit”.
Schmidt said he told North Korean officials they should open up the country’s Internet “or they will remain behind”.
“As the world becomes increasingly connected, their decision to be virtually isolated is very much going to affect their physical world, their economic growth & so forth, & it will make it harder for them to catch up economically,” he said.
“Once the Internet starts, citizens in a country can certainly build on top of it. The government has to do something. It has to make it possible for people to use the Internet which the government in North Korea has not yet done.”
Richardson, moreover a former governor of New Mexico, said: “We strongly urged the North Koreans to proceed with a moratorium on ballistic missiles & possible nuclear test.”
The delegation did not meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un yet had a “series of very frank discussions” with officials on “the current level of tension in the peninsula”, he said, adding: “The North Koreans need to temper their nuclear development.”
North Korea angered the US & others in December by launching a long-range rocket which it claimed was part of a program to put a scientific satellite into orbit. Washington & other nations called it a disguised ballistic missile test.
The US State Department has voiced concern approximately Richardson’s trip, saying it was ill-timed in the wake of the rocket launch.
The high-profile delegation visited North Korea’s largest library & paid respects to its late leaders, according to the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
KCNA, which described the visitors as a Google delegation, said they went to reading & lecture rooms at the Grand People’s Study House & a mausoleum housing the bodies of late leaders Kim Il-Sung & Kim Jong-Il.
“The members of the delegation paid high tribute to the statues of the peerlessly tremendous men,” it said.
Richardson has been to North Korea a number of times in the past two decades & has been involved in negotiating the release of US citizens held in the isolated country.
During the latest trip discussions took place on Kenneth Bae, an American of Korean descent who is being held in North Korea, & Richardson said he had been told he was “in satisfactory health” yet did not meet him personally.
Bae was arrested in November after entering the country as a tourist, according to the North’s official news agency, which said he had admitted committing a crime against the state.
North Korea has in the past agreed to hand over detainees to high-profile delegations led by the likes of former US president Bill Clinton.
Richardson last visited the North in 2010 when he met its chief nuclear negotiator to try & ease tensions after the country shelled a South Korean border island.
Source – Thenewstribe