Thursday, January 10, 2013
U.S.'s Richardson says didn't meet detained American on North Korea trip
BEIJING (Reuters) - Former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson and Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt failed to secure the release of a Korean-American held in North Korea since December during a controversial trip to the secretive state.
Richardson told a media briefing at Beijing's airport on Thursday he was unable to meet Korean-American Kenneth Bae, who has been charged with unspecified crimes against the state.
He said he had expressed his concerns to North Korean authorities and had been assured of Bae's good health.
Schmidt said in brief remarks his visit was private and was to talk about a free and open Internet.
The timing of the trip by Schmidt and Richardson was criticised by the U.S. State Department. It came after North Korea carried out a long-range rocket launch last month, which Washington considers a provocative test of ballistic missile technology.
The trip also came as the United States, South Korea, Japan and their European allies were pushing at the United Nations to expand long-standing U.N. Security Council sanctions on North Korea after the North's December 12 rocket launch.
Pyongyang, according to satellite imagery, is continuing work on its nuclear testing facilities, potentially paving the way for a third nuclear bomb test.
(Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by David Chance and Paul Tait)