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Schmidt, Richardson travel to N Korea

Former U.S. diplomat Bill Richardson said on Monday (January 7) that he and Google executive Eric Schmidt's trip to North Korea is a "private humanitarian mission" not connected to the U.S. government. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER U.S. DIPLOMAT BILL RICHARDSON SAYING: "Well (we will talk about) the financial situation, the humanitarian situation, the issue of the American detainee in North Korea. I have spoken to the son of the detainee, he wants me to try to bring his father back. We think that will be difficult. But we are going to try to see him and inquire about his conditions." Richardson said the trip is partly aimed at securing the release of U.S. detainee, Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American tour guide, who was detained and accused of unspecified crimes against the state. The mission has been criticised by the White House because it comes as the U.N. Security Council decides how to respond to North Korea's December 12 missile launch. Richardson, a former ambassador to the United Nations, has made numerous trips to North Korea, although Schmidt's involvement in the trip are not clear. Google characterized it as "personal" travel. The United States does not have diplomatic relations with North Korea and the isolated and impoverished state remains technically at war with South Korea.

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