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World Briefing / Italy

North Korea won't get yachts

July 24, 2009|TIMES WIRE REPORTS

Italy has blocked the nearly $18-million sale of two luxury yachts believed to have been bound for North Korea in violation of international sanctions, authorities said.

An Austrian firm ordered the 95-foot and 105-foot seafaring vessels made in Italy by Azimut-Benetti luxury ship-builders. A Chinese firm stepped in later to complete the purchase, Italian officials said.

An investigation determined that the yachts were bound for the reclusive communist nation in violation of international sanctions barring the sale of luxury goods to North Korea, the ministry said.

The impoverished nation relies on foreign food aid, but leader Kim Jong Il is known to own yachts, limousines and thoroughbred horses.

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