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January 11th, 2013
10:21 AM ET

Fmr. Gov. Richardson: 'It's important that we engage North Korea'

While few people have ever traveled to North Korea, a high-profile group from the U.S. just got back from a controversial trip to the closed-off country that the State Department called "ill-advised."

Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt spent three days in the communist country, and Richardson joins Starting Point this morning to discuss the trip and respond to criticism.

"We went as a private, humanitarian trip for three reasons," Schmidt explains. "One, to urge the North Koreans to have a moratorium on missile activity and nuclear tests. Secondly, to find out about the American detained there, Kenneth Bay, that he be properly treated, and then thirdly, to spread the message about an open society, the internet, and cell phones."

Although Richardson did not meet with the country's new leader Kim Jong-un, he says that he got the sense that Un is "more open to reform" than his father.

"There are some economic measures that he has taken that are a little more open-minded," Richardson says. "His manner is more mixing with the people, more speeches. His father, for instance, never addressed the country. He was educated in Europe, so I have some hope, but at the same time, he engages in these missile launches. I think now that he's done that, perhaps he feels he's established his domestic strength with his people and now he'll engage in diplomacy."

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