Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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National and World

January 7, 2013

Google executive chairman arrives in North Korea

(Continued)

"We don't think the timing of the visit is helpful, and they are well aware of our views," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters last week.

The trip was planned well before North Korea announced its plans to send a satellite into space, two people with knowledge of the delegation's plans told The Associated Press. AP first reported the group's plans last Thursday.

Schmidt, a staunch proponent of Internet connectivity and openness, is expected to make a donation during the visit, while Richardson will try to discuss the detainment of a U.S. citizen jailed in Pyongyang, members of the delegation told AP. They asked not to be named, saying the trip was a private visit.

"We're going to try to inquire the status, see if we can see him, possibly lay the groundwork for him coming home," Richardson said of the U.S. citizen. "I heard from his son who lives in Washington state, who asked me to bring him back. I doubt we can do it on this trip."

The visit comes just days after Kim, who took power following the Dec. 17, 2011, death of his father, Kim Jong Il, laid out a series of policy goals for North Korea in a lengthy New Year's speech. He cited expanding science and technology as a means to improving the country's economy as a key goal for 2013.

North Korea's economy has languished for decades, particularly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, which since the mid-1940s had provided the country with an economic safety net. North Korea, which has very little arable land, has relied on outside help to feed its people since a famine in the 1990s.

In recent years, North Korea has aimed to modernize its farms and digitize its factories. Farmers told the AP that management policies were revamped to encourage production by providing workers with incentives.

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