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However, most North Koreans only have access to a domestic Intranet system, not the World Wide Web. For North Koreans, Internet use is still strictly regulated and allowed only with approval.

Schmidt, who oversaw Google’s expansion into a global Internet giant, speaks frequently about the importance of providing people around the world with Internet access and technology.

Google now has offices in more than 40 countries, including all three of North Korea’s neighbors: Russia, South Korea and China, another country criticized for systematic Internet censorship.

Accompanying Schmidt is Jared Cohen, a former U.S. State Department policy and planning adviser who heads Google’s New York-based think tank. The two collaborated on a book about the Internet’s role in shaping society called “The New Digital Age” that comes out in April.

Also leading the delegation is Kun “Tony” Namkung, a Korea expert who has made frequent trips to North Korea over the past 25 years and has worked as a consultant for The Associated Press.

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Associated Press writer Gillian Wong in Beijing and Matthew Pennington in Washington contributed to this report.