U.S. gov't frowns on Eric Schmidt's North Korea trip
The timing is not particularly helpful, said a State Department spokeswoman
IDG News Service - The U.S. Department of State has described the timing of a proposed visit by Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt and others to North Korea as not "particularly helpful" in view of the Asian country's recent launch of a long-range rocket.
A South Korean government official confirmed on Thursday a news report that Schmidt was traveling to North Korea on a personal visit. He is expected to be joined by former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson and his advisor Tony Namkung, according to the reports. Google declined to comment on the personal travel of its executives.
Department of State spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a briefing on Thursday that Schmidt and Richardson are private citizens, traveling in an unofficial capacity.
"They are not going to be accompanied by any U.S. officials. They are not carrying any messages from us. Frankly, we don't think the timing of this is particularly helpful, but they are private citizens and they are making their own decisions," she said according to a transcript of the briefing on the department's website.
Even though Google has offices in more than 40 countries, including in North Korea's surrounding neighbors--Russia, South Korea, and China--the prospects for a business deal for Google are remote if only because North Korea is probably the most tightly controlled country in terms of Internet usage, wrote Victor Cha, senior adviser and Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington in a posting on the CSIS website. Only about 4,000 North Koreans have access to the web and under very tightly monitored conditions, he said.
If Google is the first small step in piercing the information bubble in Pyongyang, it could be a very interesting development, Cha added.
Nuland said that Google, like all U.S. companies, is subject to restrictions under U.S. law. North Korea does not have diplomatic relations with the U.S. and is subject to U.S. sanctions on a number of fronts. The December launch of the rocket to put a satellite into orbit was criticized as it is seen as giving North Korea long-range missile capability for military purposes.
The Department of State said it was reacting to news reports of Schmidt's visit and did not comment on any official contact with the Google executive. "I'm not going to get into any further details with regard to our contact except to say that they are well aware of the U.S. Government's view on this," Nuland said. It was speculated earlier that the goal of the trip may be to secure the release of Kenneth Bae, a U.S. citizen the North Korean government recently said it is holding in custody. But Nuland said the U.S. was in contact with North Korea about Bae through the Embassy of Sweden, which is its "protecting power" in Pyongyang.
- Social Media Education: The New Edge for Success Failure to train for social media will cost your business money. A recent report showed how digitally prepared companies can unlock up to...
- Social Media in Technology: A Unified Strategy for Success Find out how social media is sparking a new era of customer and industry-understanding in technology enterprises and how industry leaders are overcoming...
- How Network Connections Drive Web Application Performance Users around the globe, on all sorts of devices, expect Web applications to function as seamlessly as desktop applications. This paper discusses the...
- Improving IT Efficiencies: Four Advantages of Multi-Tenant Data Centers Increasing demands on IT are forcing organizations to rethink their data center options. For many organizations, that means turning to the flexibility afforded...
- NSS Labs & Cisco Present: Evaluating Leading Breach Detection Systems Today's constantly evolving advanced malware and APTs can evade point-in-time defenses to penetrate networks. Security professionals must evolve their strategy in lockstep to...
- Will the Real Endpoint Threat Detection and Response Please Stand Up? This webinar explores new technologies & process for protecting endpoints from advanced attackers as well as the innovations that are pushing the envelope... All Internet White Papers | Webcasts
Our new bimonthly Internet of Things newsletter helps you keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, trends and developments related to the IoT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!