(Associated Press) Google chief Eric Schmidt's plan to visit North Korea has put the Obama administration in the awkward position of opposing a champion of Internet freedom engaging with one of the most intensely censored countries.
But the Obama administration is wary for a reason: It fears Schmidt's trip could give a boost to North Korea's young leader, Kim Jong Un, just when Washington is trying to pressure him.
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North Korea in December launched a long-range rocket in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, and the U.S. and its allies are seeking tighter sanctions. That's proving difficult because of resistance from permanent council member China, which likely fears its troublesome ally could respond to punishment by conducting a nuclear test.
U.S. officials are also concerned that the high-profile visit could confuse partners in Asia and suggest a shift in U.S. policy as the administration prepares to install a new secretary of state to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton. The nominee is Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate in 2004.
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