Kim meets with mobile phone CEO from Egypt

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Kim meets with mobile phone CEO from Egypt

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il met with the head of an Egyptian firm that provides mobile phone service in the communist nation, North Korea’s state media KCNA reported yesterday, a move seen as an attempt to attract more investments from the company.

Naguib Sawiris, chairman and CEO of Orascom Telecom Holding, has been in North Korea on a visit since Friday. The Cairo-based firm provides mobile phone service in the North via a joint venture it set up with the government since late 2008.

Kim “warmly welcomed his DPRK visit taking place at a time when Orascom’s investment is making successful progress in different fields of the DPRK, including telecommunications,” Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency said. DPRK is the acronym for the North’s official name.

Kim had “a cordial talk” with the businessman and hosted a dinner for him, the KCNA said.

Also present at the meeting was Jang Song-thaek, Kim’s brother-in-law and vice chairman of the powerful National Defense Commission, the KCNA said. It was the first time that Jang’s activity has been reported in state media this year.

North Korea first launched a mobile phone service in Pyongyang in November 2002, but banned it after a deadly explosion in the northern Ryongchon train station in April 2004, possibly out of concern that it could be used in a plot against the regime.

In 2008, the country reversed its policy and introduced a 3G mobile phone network in the joint venture.

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