Richardson to State Dept: I Can Handle North Korea
He says Eric Schmidt isn't going for a 'Google trip'
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 4, 2013 9:41 AM CST

(Newser) – Bill Richardson today shed some light on the purpose of the North Korea trip he's taking with Google honcho Eric Schmidt—and brushed aside the State Department's objections to it. "It's a private humanitarian visit," he told CBS This Morning. "We're not representing the State Department, so they shouldn't be that nervous." Richardson said he was going in part to discuss the release of Kenneth Bae, an American held in North Korea, at the behest of Bae's family.

"I know the North Koreans," Richardson added, boasting of past successes negotiating detainee releases, food aid, and more. "I've been dealing with them successfully for 15 years." The State Department has complained that the trip's timing isn't "particularly helpful" given North Korea's recent rocket launch, but Richardson said they'd already postponed the trip at the Department's urging once. He also downplayed any tech-world speculation about the trip, saying Schmidt was going purely as a friend and foreign policy enthusiast. "This is not a Google trip."