Switzerland halts training grants to N Korean officers

Switzerland halts training grants to N Korean officers

GENEVA - Switzerland said Friday it had halted a programme offering grants to allow North Korean officers to undergo training in the wealthy Alpine country.

The Swiss defence ministry confirmed a report by public broadcaster RTS that a programme that had allowed two representatives of the Pyongyang regime to come and take classes at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy each year since 2011.

The grants, which have paid out a total of 160,000 Swiss francs (S$233,300) in the past three years, were created in a bid to help the communist regime to open up.

Participants in the programme reportedly analysed international security issues like the problem of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and human rights violations.

The Arab Spring uprisings and the Ukrainian crisis have figured on the curriculum, with participants discussing the role of the armed forces and democracy issues, according to RTS.

But concerns were raised after revelations last year that North Korean officers participated in an unauthorised exercises at a shooting range.

After some parliamentarians raised questions about the grants, the defence ministry decided to halt them, it confirmed.

North Korean officers will still be permitted to take part in the programme, but will need to finance their studies themselves, RTS said.

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