- Associated Press - Monday, January 7, 2013

PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA (AP) - Google’s executive chairman is starting a visit to North Korea that has prompted controversy and fascination.

Eric Schmidt of Google arrived Monday in a country considered to have the world’s most restrictive Internet policies. He is part of a delegation that includes former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

It is the first trip by an executive from the California-based Internet search provider to North Korea.

Also on the trip is Jared Cohen, director of the Google Ideas think tank. Cohen is a former State Department policy adviser.

Washington has criticized the trip as not “helpful.” North Korea has drawn criticism for launching a long-range rocket last month.

Richardson calls the trip a “private humanitarian mission” but it’s not clear what the group hopes to accomplish during the visit.

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