Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said Wednesday that his delegation is pressing Pyongyang to put a moratorium on missile launches and nuclear tests and to allow more cell phones and an open Internet for its citizens.
Richardson told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview in Pyongyang that the group is also asking for fair and humane treatment for an American citizen detained in the country. Also on the trip is Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt.
"The citizens of the DPRK will be better off with more cell phones and an active Internet. Those are the ... messages we've given to a variety of foreign policy officials, scientists" and government officials, Richardson said.
Richardson has said the delegation is on a private, humanitarian trip. Schmidt, who is the highest-profile U.S. business executive to visit since leader Kim Jong Un took power a year ago, has not spoken publicly about the reasons behind the journey.
US senator calls Google boss, Richardson 'useful idiots'
US Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., joined in the disapproval Monday of Google executive Eric Schmidt, who has drawn criticism for a trip he's making this week to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
To describe Schmidt and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who is leading the delegation, McCain borrowed a term from former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin:
Richardson and Schmidt arrive in North Korea today - Lenin used to call them "useful idiots"
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) January 7, 2013
A request for comment from McCain's office was not immediately returned.
The group arrived in the DPRK where they plan on meeting with political, economic, military and educational leaders, but officials in Washington have expressed concern over Richardson and Schmidt's trip.
"We don't think the timing of the visit is helpful, and they are well aware of our views," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters last week, according to the Associated Press.
The Associated Press reports Schmidt is expected to make a donation while in the DPRK this week while Richardson is looking into the status of a U.S. citizen currently detained in Pyongyang.
Google exec gets look at DPRK students surfing Net
Students at a premier university of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) showed Google's executive chairman yesterday how they look for information online: They Google it.
Google's Eric Schmidt got a first look at North Korea's limited Internet usage when an American delegation he and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson are leading visited a computer lab at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang.
Schmidt, who is the highest-profile US business executive to visit Pyongyang since leader Kim Jong Un took power a year ago, has not spoken publicly about the reasons behind the four-day trip to the DPRK.
Schmidt chatted with students working on HP desktop computers at an "e-library" at the university named after the DPRK founder Kim Il Sung. One student showed Schmidt how he accesses reading materials from Cornell University online.
"He's actually going to a Cornell site," Schmidt told Richardson after peering at the URL.
Jared Cohen, director of the Google Ideas, asked a student how he searches for information online. The student clicked on Google - "That's where I work!" Cohen said - and then asked to be able to type in his own search: "New York City." Cohen clicked on a Wikipedia page for the city, pointing at a photo and telling the student, "That's where I live."
Librarian Kim Su Hyang said students at the university have had Internet access since the laboratory opened in April 2010.
University students at Kim Chaek University of Science and Technology and the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology also have carefully monitored Internet access. Computers at Pyongyang's main library at the Grand People's Study house are linked to a domestic Intranet service that allows them to read state-run media online and access a trove of reading materials.
The DPRK people with computers at home can also sign up for the Intranet service.