Korea’s web policy will ‘make it harder economically,’ Schmidt said
Beijing – Arabstoday
Google chairman Eric Schmidt told North Korea it will not develop unless it embraces Internet freedom, he said on Thursday, returning from a controversial visit to the communist state with US politician Bill Richardson
Richardson, the former US ambassador to the United Nations, led the trip, calling on Pyongyang to adopt a moratorium on ballistic missiles and nuclear tests following its widely criticised rocket launch last month.
Speaking at Beijing airport, he said efforts to "strongly urge" North Korea, a highly secretive and tightly-controlled country, to increase the use of the Internet was "the main success of the visit.”
Schmidt said he told North Korean officials they should open up the country's Internet "or they will remain behind.”
"As the world becomes increasingly connected, their decision to be virtually isolated is going to affect their physical world very much, their economic growth and so forth, and it will make it harder for them to catch up economically," he said.
"Once the Internet starts, citizens in a country can certainly build on top of it,” Schmidt added. “The government has to do something. It has to make it possible for people to use the Internet which the government in North Korea has not yet done."
The delegation did not meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un but had a "series of very frank discussions" with officials on "the current level of tension in the peninsula." Richardson, also a former governor of New Mexico, said: "We strongly urged the North Koreans to proceed with a moratorium on ballistic missiles and possible nuclear test."
The official Korean Central News Agency [KCNA] meanwhile reported that the high-profile delegation visited North Korea’s largest library, paying respects to its late leaders.
KCNA, which described the visitors as a Google delegation, said they went to reading and lecture rooms at the Grand People's Study House and a mausoleum housing the bodies of late leaders Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il.
"The members of the delegation paid high tribute to the statues of the peerlessly great men," it said.
During the latest trip discussions took place on Kenneth Bae, an American citizen of Korean descent who is being held in North Korea, and Richardson said he had been told he was "in good health" but did not meet him personally.
Bae was arrested in November after entering the country as a tourist, according to the official news agency, which said he had admitted committing a crime against the state during his time there.
North Korea has in the past agreed to hand over detainees to high-profile delegations led by the likes of former US President Bill Clinton.