Richardson to travel to N. Korea next week

No reporters will be traveling with the group, but Richardson will hold a news conference on Thursday at the Beijing airport.

Richardson, a former U.N. adviser, said Friday that the State Department "shouldn't be that nervous" about the trip.

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“I’ve been dealing with North Korea for 15 years,” Richardson told CBS News. “I’ve brought back American servicemen, I’ve brought back American hostages, I’ve negotiated for the remains of our soldiers from the Korean War, food aid. I know the North Koreans.”

On Thursday, a spokeswoman for the State Department said it did not "think the timing of this is particularly helpful" and repeatedly underscored that the Obama administration had not sanctioned the visit.

"They are private citizens,” said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland. “They are traveling in an unofficial capacity. They are not going to be accompanied by any U.S. officials. They are not carrying any messages from us.”

Richardson will try to meet with North Korean officials during the trip to discuss the recent arrest of an American citizen of Korean descent, according to the Associated Press.

Schmidt, who served as the CEO of Google for roughly a decade, is a member of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, a group comprised of top scientists and engineers that advise the president on science and tech policy.

He is also set to release a book in April with Jared Cohen, the director of Google Ideas and a former State Department official, that will explore how Internet technology will impact the future of politics, education, health, terrorism and policy.

Cohen is also traveling to North Korea, according to Richardson’s office.