By Geneva Sands - 01/11/13 03:36 PM EST
"My point here is that right now our relationship with North Korea is frozen and if some individuals, private citizens, especially someone like Eric Schmidt, who can bring a message of openness and hope and the Internet and cellphones and more communications, and be treated as someone they're intensely interested in. Remember, we met with students, with average people — it wasn't just the government," Richardson said.
Richardson, a Democrat and former New Mexico governor, denied charges that the visit could provide propaganda for the North Korean government.
"I mean, these people in North Korea are thirsty for openness and when we deliver a message that the Internet and access to the Internet and exchange of information and openness is good, I don't see how this can be harmful," he said.