Monday 19 August 2019

Daimler baffled as to how North Korea’s Kim got limousines

The German carmaker says it has no business dealings with Pyongyang.

Russian honour guards pass North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s limousine (Alexander Khitrov/AP)
Russian honour guards pass North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s limousine (Alexander Khitrov/AP)

By Eric Talmadge, Associated Press

German carmaker Daimler, which makes armoured limousines used by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, has said it has no idea where he got them and has no business dealings with the North.

Mr Kim has raised eyebrows by using Daimler-branded stretch limousines at several very high-profile summits, including his meeting this week with Russian President Vladimir Putin and both of his earlier summits with President Donald Trump.

The sale of luxury goods, including limousines, is banned under UN sanctions intended to put pressure on North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrives at Vladivostok station (Alexander Khitrov/AP)

Mr Kim nevertheless had two limos waiting for him at Vladivostok station, a Mercedes Maybach S600 Pullman Guard and a Mercedes Maybach S62.

He is believed to have also used the S600 Pullman Guard for his summits with Mr Trump in Singapore in June last year and in Hanoi in February.

“We have absolutely no idea how those vehicles were delivered to North Korea,” Daimler spokeswoman Silke Mockert said.

“For Daimler, the correct export of products in conformance with the law is a fundamental principle of responsible entrepreneurial activity.”

Daimler, based in Stuttgart, Germany, is one of the world’s biggest and more prestigious car companies.

Kim Jong Un’s limousine (Alexander Khitrov/AP)

It is one of the biggest providers of high-end passenger cars and the world’s largest producer of lorries above six tons.

On its home page, the multinational giant boasts of selling vehicles and services in nearly all the countries of the world and of having production facilities in Europe, North and South America, Asia and Africa.

North Korea, however, is not one of its official customers.

“Our company has had no business connections with North Korea for far more than 15 years now and strictly complies with EU and US embargoes,” she said.

“To prevent deliveries to North Korea and to any of its embassies worldwide, Daimler has implemented a comprehensive export control process.

(The Mercedes-Benz Pullman limousine is) a superbly appointed setting for discreet meetings Daimler

“Sales of vehicles by third parties, especially of used vehicles, are beyond our control and responsibility.”

Mr Kim’s ability to procure the limousines anyway is a good example of how porous the international sanctions tend to be.

According to Daimler, the Mercedes-Benz Pullman limousines offer their passengers “a superbly appointed setting for discreet meetings”.

The version used by Mr Kim is believed to be equipped with all the key communications and entertainment systems so that, according to a company description of the car, its occupants can remain “fully in touch with the rest of the world while enjoying the luxury and comfort of their own very special place in it”.

PA Media

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