The United States has expressed displeasure at a planned visit by Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt to North Korea.
“Frankly, we don’t think the timing of this is particularly helpful, but they are private citizens and they are making their own decisions,” US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Thursday.
Schmidt, whose corporate motto is “Don’t Be Evil,” is reportedly planning to travel to North Korea with former US ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson later this month.
The trip has not been officially announced and spokespeople for Richardson and Google did not comment on the matter.
“They are well aware of the US government’s view on this,” Nuland stated. She underlined that the two persons were not representing the US administration. “They are private citizens.”
“They are traveling in an unofficial capacity. They are not going to be accompanied by any US officials. They are not carrying any messages from us.”
Nuland added that “recent actions” by the North Korean government was the reason behind the US opposition to the visit.
On December 12, 2012, Pyongyang said it had launched a long-range rocket from the Sohae Satellite Launching Station, located in Cholsan County of North Pyongyang Province, and successfully placed a satellite into orbit.
On December 14, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un said the rocket launch showed Pyongyang’s “resolute determination to benefit from its legitimate right for the further use of space for peaceful means; for scientific, technical and economic development of the country.”
The rocket launch drew widespread criticism from the UN Security Council and the European Union.
Washington and its allies say the rocket launch was a cover for testing an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.