THE GUARDIAN (UK), CBS NEWS (US)
After wrapping up an unusual and notably tight-lipped visit to North Korea, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt urged the Pyongyang regime on Thursday to open up to the Internet or risk the further economic consequences of isolation.
"As the world is becoming increasingly connected, their decision to be virtually isolated is very much going to affect their physical world, their economic growth and so forth," Schmidt said, speaking at the Beijing airport after returning from the four-day trip, CBS News reports. "It will make it harder for them to catch up economically. We made that alternative very, very clear.
Schmidt took part in a delegation led by former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who urged North Korea to halt missile launches and nuclear tests that have prompted UN sanctions. Richardson was also there to seek the release of Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American held in North Korea since December.
“We were informed that his health was good, that the judicial proceedings would start soon,” the Guardian quoted Richardson as saying, noting that the delegation was not able to meet with Bae. He also urged the government officials to do what was necessary to “calm tensions on the peninsula.”
The unusual trip, which was not sanctioned by the U.S. government, was criticized by some for undermining the traditional channels of U.S. diplomacy and boost Pyongyang's standing.
Eric Schmidt (red scarf) and Bill Richardson (right) in North Korean University, from Youtube expand=1]