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North Korea’s Kim Jong Il Meets Orascom Chairman in Pyongyang

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Jan. 24 (Bloomberg) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Il met Orascom Telecom Holding SAE Chairman Naguib Sawiris in Pyongyang yesterday, when Kim praised the Egyptian company’s investment success in the country.

Kim welcomed Sawiris’s visit “taking place at a time when Orascom’s investment is making successful progress,” North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency reported today. Kim had a “cordial talk” with the businessman before hosting a dinner for him, according to the report.

Orascom, the biggest mobile-phone operator in the Middle East by users, said had 301,199 subscribers in North Korea at the end of September, more than quadruple the number recorded a year earlier. The Cairo-based company started mobile-phone services through its Koryolink unit in December 2008.

North Korea, under United Nations sanctions for its two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, is restricted in making cross-border financial transactions related to weapons development.

Sawiris’ expansion in the past decade has also taken him to Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe and post-Saddam Hussein Iraq. Naguib, the oldest of three brothers who control some of Egypt’s biggest companies, made forays into markets shunned by others.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bomi Lim in Seoul at blim30@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg in Hong Kong at phirschberg@bloomberg.net