Google's Eric Schmidt to fly to North Korea tomorrow

The tech titan's executive chairman is in Beijing and scheduled to travel to the reclusive country on a humanitarian mission.

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt. Stephen Shankland/CNET

Update Jan. 7 at 7:44 a.m. PT: Schmidt and Richardson have arrived in North Korea, according to the AP.

Despite the objections of the U.S. State Department, Eric Schmidt plans to leave for North Korea tomorrow.

Google's executive chairman is in Beijing and scheduled to depart on a commercial flight for a four-day humanitarian mission to the reclusive country, according to an Associated Press report. Schmidt is part of a delegation led by former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

CNET has contacted Google for comment and will update this report when we learn more.

The U.S. State Department has discouraged the visit , saying that the timing is not right for the delegation to visit the country, which is subject to U.S. economic sanctions. A department spokesperson cited recent missile launches by North Korea as a reason for opposing the visit.

Richardson has said that Schmidt is traveling to North Korea as a private citizen with an interest in the country's economic issues as well as its use of social media.

"I invited Eric," Richardson told CBS This Morning . "He is going as a private citizen; this is not a Google trip. He's interested in foreign policy, he's a friend of mine, and I felt that it was important that there be a broader perspective of our visit."

The delegation also plans to inquire about Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American whose arrest on unspecified charges was announced by the North Koreans last month.

 

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