Swiss ban 'inappropriate' ski lifts for North Korea

Mon Aug 19, 2013 2:38pm EDT
 
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By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) - Switzerland has banned the sale to North Korea of equipment for a luxury ski resort planned for the ruling elite in the widely impoverished state that is under U.N. sanctions, officials said on Monday.

North Korean leader Kim Jung-un, who studied under an assumed name in the Swiss capital Berne and is believed to have gone on school ski trips in the Alps, wants to develop leisure activities for tourists and the upper crust among its 23 million citizens.

North Korea approached several Swiss companies, including Bartholet Maschinenbau AG, to provide chair lifts and cable cars worth 7 million Swiss francs ($7.57 million) for its sprawling Masik resort, the Geneva daily Le Temps reported on Monday.

But the Swiss government, contacted by the companies for clearance, added luxury sporting equipment to its list of goods banned under United Nations sanctions, Marie Avet of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), said.

"The Federal Council decided on July 3 to also put infrastructure for sports facilities on the list, especially when they have a more luxury character for resorts," Avet told Reuters. "These resorts have a luxury character, that is why it is not appropriate to export."

The neutral country's sanctions list for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) also includes equipment for golf, horseback riding, water sports, billiards and casinos, as well as luxury watches, jewelry, caviar, perfume and artworks.

Almost one-third of North Korean children are stunted due to malnutrition, the U.N.'s World Food Program says. The U.N. secretary-general has appealed for funding for food, health care and sanitation to millions of North Koreans.

Reclusive North Korea is under U.N. sanctions for its nuclear and missile weapons programs.   Continued...