Former gov. fails to secure American's release from N. Korea

Bill Richardson, on a visit to North Korea with Google exec Eric Schmidt, says he was unable to meet with Korean-American Kenneth Bae, who has been charged with unspecified crimes.

BEIJING — Former New Mexico Gov. 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 said at Beijing airport Thursday that 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 criticized 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.

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The trip also came as the United States, South Korea, Japan and their European allies were pushing to expand long-standing United Nations Security Council sanctions on North Korea in the aftermath of the country's rocket launch on Dec. 12.

Pyongyang, according to satellite imagery, is continuing work on its nuclear-testing facilities, potentially paving the way for a third nuclear bomb test.

 

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