North Korea closes its embassy in Malaysia after diplomatic row

Bangkok, Mar 21 (efe-epa).- North Korea’s diplomatic staff vacated its embassy in Kuala Lumpur Sunday, alleging that the Malaysian government had conspired against Pyongyang after the extradition of a North Korean citizen to the United States.

Counselor Kim Yu Song, in a statement, accused the Malaysian government of “destroying the foundation of our bilateral relations” after a court allowed the extradition of Mun Chol-Myong to face money laundering charges in the US.

“(The) incident is an outright product of an (anti-North Korea) conspiracy from a heinous policy by the United States,” the diplomat said, after closing the embassy in the Southeast Asian nation.

About 30 embassy staff members left the premises on a bus to the airport in the Malaysian capital, from where they boarded a plane for Pyongyang.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation had requested Mun’s arrest in 2019.

The North Korean businessman is accused of laundering money through front companies and mediating luxury goods shipments from Singapore to North Korea.

The shipments violated US and United Nations sanctions imposed against the North Korean government over its controversial nuclear weapons program.

On Friday, North Korea announced it was severing its diplomatic ties with Malaysia following the court decision.

Malaysia said the decision was “hostile” and closed its embassy in North Korea. It set a deadline of 48 hours for the North Korean diplomats to leave the country.

Malaysia had suspended the operations of the embassy in 2017.

The two countries established diplomatic ties in the early 1970s.

The relationship deteriorated in 2017 when Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, suddenly dropped dead at the airport in Kuala Lumpur.

North Korean intelligence was accused of orchestrating the murder of Kim Jong-nam.

The two nations, which allowed their citizens to travel to each other’s country without a visa, ended up expelling their ambassadors. EFE-EPA


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