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US News North Korea abruptly breaks its diplomatic ties with Malaysia

15:55  19 march  2021
15:55  19 march  2021 Source:   rfi.fr

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Le ministère nord-coréen des Affaires étrangères a annoncé la rupture des liens diplomatiques avec la Malaisie après la décision d'extradition le 17 mars par les autorités malaisiennes d'un de ses ressortissants vers les États-Unis. © AP The North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the breakdown of diplomatic ties with Malaysia after the extradition decision on 17 March by the Malaysian authorities of one of his citizens to the United States.

furious against extradition in the United States of one of its nationals, Pyongyang abruptly broke this on Friday, March 19 his diplomatic relations with Kuala Lumpur. This puts an end to a privileged relationship until the assassination in 2017 of the half-brother of the Kim Jong-one leader.

The North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced that decision after extradition on March 17 by the Malaysian authorities of one of its nationals to the United States. He qualified this act of "unforgivable crime" committed "with servility against American pressures".

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Until Kim Jong-Nam's murder, four years ago, Malaysia was one of North Korea's only allied countries. The brother of the North Korean leader, who was also a detractor of the regime, died after receiving on the face a neurotoxic agent at Kuala Lumpur airport. This assassination was widely awarded by South Korea to the north, which Pyongyang denied. Their relations had previously improved, Malaysia deciding in particular to reopen its embassy in Pyongyang.

The announcement of this Friday suddenly puts an end to this warming. The North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs "announces the total rupture of its diplomatic relations with Malaysia", in a statement broadcast by the official KCNA agency. Mun Chol Myong, the North Korean national targeted by extradition, was engaged in "legitimate foreign trade activities in Singapore," said the agency.

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Laundering accusations

This rupture occurs in the aftermath of the South Korea visit of two American officials from the new Biden administration. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin made a tour in Asia in particular to strengthen the links of Washington with its traditional partners in the region facing the North Korea and the growing influence from China. Thursday, Pyongyang warned that its position would remain unchanged against the United States as long as they do not give up their "hostile policy" to it. On March 9, Mun Chol Myong, had seen his last resort rejected by the highest court of Malaysia against extradition to the United States, where he will have to answer charges of money laundering.

aged about fifty, Mun lived in this South-East Asian country for a decade with his family when he was arrested in 2019 following a Washington extradition request. In court, he rejected the charges of the FBI that he directed a criminal group in charge of exports to North Korea, in violation of international sanctions, which would also have laundered funds through screens.

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It is accused of four money laundering leaders and two plotters aimed at whitening money as part of his work in Singapore, according to his lawyers.

Towards a gradual climbing of tensions between Pyongyang and Washington?

The authorities did not indicate which goods he could export illegally to North Korea. Other business has in the past revealed exports of alcohol, watches and other luxury products.

for Shahriman Lockman, foreign policy expert at the International Strategic Studies Institute in Kuala Lumpur, the announcement from Pyongyang "is part of the diplomatic signal sent by North Korea to the United States, which bores 'A gradual climb of tensions between Pyongyang and Washington ".

Malaysia and North Korea maintained particularly cordial relations until 2017, but after Kim Jong-Nam's assassination, the two countries expelled their respective ambassadors and deleted the visa exemption reciprocal agreement for the Visitors.

In December 2020, North Korea possessed embassies in about 25 countries, including Cuba, Iran, Germany and its main ally, China, according to Seoul. Pyongyang has long been accused of using its diplomatic representations to make intelligence, money laundering and violate international sanctions.

(with AFP)

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