North Korea ski lift: Switzerland blocks Kim Jong-un deal

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un tours the construction site of the planned Masik ski resort with an entourage of military leadersImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
Kim Jong-un tours the construction site of the planned Masik ski resort

Switzerland has blocked a deal to sell ski lifts to North Korea in the latest setback for leader Kim Jong-un's pet ski resort project.

The Swiss government cited expanded sanctions on luxury exports to North Korea.

Heavy rains and landslides have already delayed the project, viewed as a response to South Korea hosting the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

Kim Jong-un has ordered the army to complete the resort by year's end.

The North Korean leader has repeatedly visited the Masik ski resort site and promoted it as an attempt to enhance the lifestyle of the nation's citizens.

But Switzerland's State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) labelled the resort a "prestigious propaganda project for the regime".

"It is inconceivable that this resort will be used by the general public," Seco spokeswoman Marie Avet said.

It is thought Kim Jong-un learned to ski in Bern, where he attended secondary school without revealing his true identity.

The ski lift deal with Swiss company Bartholet Maschinenbau, valued at more than $7m (£4.46m; 5.2m euros), is reportedly the third to fall through due to sanctions.

Austrian and French manufacturers also turned down deals, citing political reasons.

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