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Why you shouldn’t be surprised if Google’s Schmidt meets with Kim Jong-Un

Google's Eric Schmidt, Bill Richardson
AP Photo/David Guttenfelder
In Pyongyang
By Steve LeVine
North KoreaPublished Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Google’s Eric Schmidt and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson are in Pyongyang this morning at the start of a three-day visit to North Korea. The pair, whose visit to North Korea was opposed to by the US State Department, is not currently expected to meet with leader Kim Jong Un, but don’t be surprised if they do.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported over the weekend that Kim is working with German advisers on a plan to open up the North Korean economy this year, including the launch of a long-sought investment law to make the rules of the road clearer. It would be silly and short-sighted for Kim to pass up a chance to talk it over with Schmidt, from the world’s most famous tech company. As of now, the American pair’s schedule of meetings is not set, so there is flexibility to work in a high-level chat.

For the record, Schmidt is said to be interested in speaking about economic issues and social media. Richardson’s aim is to gain the release of American Kenneth Bae, a Washington state tour guide. Bae was detained about Dec. 21 while leading a small tour of the country. Richardson has traveled to North Korea numerous times over the last two decades.

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