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Eric Schmidt's Norks outing poorly timed, tuts US govt

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The timing of Google chairman Eric Schmidt's planned visit to North Korea has been slammed by the US government. The search supremo is due to head out to the super-secretive internet-unfriendly nation soon after the launch of a long-range rocket by the Kim Jong-un-led country.

"Frankly, we don't think the timing of this is particularly helpful," state department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told Reuters.

As we reported yesterday, Schmidt will accompany former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson to North Korea. The meeting is a private affair by the two and isn't related to any official government contact.

"They are private citizens. They are traveling in an unofficial capacity," Nuland told Reuters. "They are not going to be accompanied by any US officials. They are not carrying any messages from us. They are making their own decisions. They are well aware of our views."

The purpose of the visit is unclear as is when precisely it will take place. It may be related to the recent arrest of a US citizen of Korean descent who was subsequently convicted of "hostile" acts in Pyongyang.

Google has declined to comment about the trip other than to say that the visit was not related to company business. ®

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