SEOUL (Reuters) - Namibia has halted ties with two North Korean state-run companies, that had built a munitions factory and were involved in projects for its military, to comply with U.N. sanctions on Pyongyang, Namibian media and the South Korean government said.
The Namibian government has terminated services of Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation and Mansudae Overseas Projects, The Namibian, a daily newspaper reported on Thursday.
Namibia is one of a dwindling number of Cold War-era friends the isolated North Korea is managing to maintain. [nL3N15I3LJ]
South Korea’s foreign ministry said Namibia had taken the step to cut ties with the firms as part of complying with U.N. sanctions, and the African state has notified the U.N. Security Council and the North Korean government.
The Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation (KOMID) is blacklisted under U.N. sanctions for earning foreign cash via illicit arms trades. Mansudae is a North Korean construction firm that had been building public artworks, statues and monuments in African countries.
This year, a report by a U.N. panel of experts noted KOMID and Mansudae are connected, either working with each other or using one another as a front.
The panel said in February that Namibia had confirmed Mansudae was involved in several military construction projects and that KOMID had earlier built a munitions factory in cooperation with or using the alias of Mansudae.
North Korea has come under growing diplomatic pressure since its January nuclear test and a space rocket launch in February, which led to a new U.N. Security Council resolution in March tightening sanctions against Pyongyang.
The Namibian government informed Pyongyang of its decision to end its cooperation with the North Korean companies during its international affairs minister’s visit to North Korea in late June, according to the Namibian.
The African country’s move follows Uganda ending its security and military cooperation with Pyongyang after a summit between South Korea and Uganda.[nL4N18Z36R]
North and South Korea are technically still at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.
South Korea has been making diplomatic efforts to engage North Korea’s old allies to press for change in the isolated state. [nL4N18Z36R]
Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Michael Perry