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Malaysian police cordons off North Korean embassy post envoy's expulsion order

Malaysia And North Korea Are Enbroiled In An Acrimonious Dispute Over The Murder Of Kim Jong-Nam, The Estranged Half-brother Of Pyongyang's Leader, At Kuala Lumpur International Airport In February.

PTI | Updated on: 06 Mar 2017, 06:00:28 PM
People protesting outside North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Getty images)

Kuala Lumpur:

Armed with assault rifles, Malaysian police cordoned off the entrance to North Korea's embassy in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, as speculation mounted that the ambassador was about to be escorted to the airport due to an expulsion order.

Police vehicles and motorcycle outriders were parked nearby. Senior government officials told AFP that ambassador Kang Chol was expected to leave Malaysia at 18.25 (1025 GMT) on flight MH360 for Beijing, shortly after the deadline for his expulsion expires.

Malaysia and North Korea are enbroiled in an acrimonious dispute over the murder of Kim Jong-Nam, the estranged half-brother of Pyongyang's leader, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in February.

On Saturday Malaysia declared Kang persona non grata andgave him 48 hours to leave the country after he failed to apologise for his criticism of Malaysia's investigation, which found that Kim had been poisoned with the deadly nerve agent VX.

Also Read: Kim killing: Malaysia PM not waiting for apology as North Korea envoy expelled

North Korea has not acknowledged the dead man's identity but has repeatedly disparaged the murder investigation, accusing Malaysia of conniving with its enemies.

Asked by reporters whether he would demand an apology from Pyongyang, Prime Minister Najib Razak replied: "Right now we are not getting anything. I don't expect anything." "They should have apologised based on principles, (so) wehave declared him persona non grata," he told reporters.

South Korea has blamed the North for the murder, citing what it says was a standing order from leader Kim Jong-Un to kill his exiled half-brother who may have been seen as a potential rival. The diplomatic dispute erupted in February when Malaysian police rejected North Korean diplomats' demands to hand over Kim's body.

Kang then claimed the investigation was politically motivated and said Kuala Lumpur was conspiring with "hostile forces", referring to the North's arch-rival, Seoul.

Malaysia summoned Kang for a dressing-down, with Najib saying the ambassador's statement was "diplomatically rude". Malaysia has also recalled its envoy to Pyongyang and cancelled a rare visa-free travel deal with North Korea.

It issued a February 28 deadline for an apology. It ordered the ambassador expelled after he failed to present himself at the foreign ministry when summoned on Saturday. The foreign ministry has said the expulsion is "part ofthe process by the Malaysian government to review itsrelations" with North Korea.

Police are seeking seven North Korean suspects in their probe, four of whom left Malaysia on the day of the murder. But on Friday they released the only North Korean they had arrested for lack of evidence.

After Ri Jong-Chol was deported, he claimed police offered him a comfortable life in Malaysia for a false confession, saying the investigation was "a conspiracy to impair the dignity of the Republic (North Korea)". 

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First Published : 06 Mar 2017, 05:44:00 PM