Eric Schmidt is going to North Korea. While the thought of Google’s very own Executive Chairman visiting a country reputed to have the most restrictive Internet policies in the world seems interesting, the U.S. State Department is not happy. In a statement on Thursday, the department said that the time was not right for Schmidt and former diplomat Bill Richardson to visit North Korea. State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland says that North Korea’s launch of a long-range rocket in December prompted the U.S. and other allies to increase the United Nations’s sanction on North Korea.
“Frankly, we don’t think the timing of this is particularly helpful. They are well aware of our views,” Nuland said. The U.S. State Department is also confirming that Schmidt and Richardson are not acting on behalf of the United States. “They are not going to be accompanied by any U.S. officials. They are not carrying any messages from us. They are private citizens and they are making their own decisions,” Nuland adds. Although the reason for the visit remains unclear, there are rumors that Schmidt’s visit with Richardson may have something to do with the pending request to release Korean-American tourist Kenneth Bae. Kim Jong Un, the country’s leader, has also called for a modern-day “industrial revolution.”