March 19 (UPI) — Malaysia gave North Korean diplomats 48 hours to close theirs embassy and permanently leave the country after Pyongyang accused Kuala Lumpur of an “unpardonable crime.”
Malaysia said Friday that North Korea violated international norms after North Korea said earlier in the day it would “completely sever ties” with the Southeast Asian nation because of the extradition of a North Korean national to the United States.
“Malaysia denounces the decision as unfriendly and unconstructive, disrespecting the spirit of mutual respect and good neighborly relations among members of the international community,” the statement from Malaysia’s foreign ministry read.
Kuala Lumpur also expressed “deep regret” over the North Korean decision.
North Korea had said on Friday that its citizen, Mun Chol Myong, was “innocent,” after a Malaysian court approved Mun’s extradition to the United States.
“We hereby declare the complete severance of diplomatic relations with Malaysia,” Pyongyang said. “From now on, Malaysian authorities will be solely responsible for any consequences that may arise between the two sides.
“Malaysian authorities committed an unpardonable crime by selling off our innocent citizens as criminals and finally coercively extraditing them to the United States.”
Mun, who is charged with money laundering, had said in his affidavit he had no part in sending banned luxury goods to North Korea from Singapore, his previous place of residence.
The suspect may have been sent to the United States on Wednesday for further investigation, according to South Korean newspaper Segye Ilbo.
North Korea has sought sanctions relief after the United Nations Security Council agreed to place restrictions on imports and exports that are believed to behind the financing and building of nuclear weapons.
Pyongyang has said it is unable to pay its share of the U.N. budget because of sanctions, but the policy could be changing.
Spokesman for the U.N. Secretary General Stéphane Dujarric said this week that North Korea paid $173,000 in dues early this year. The payment represents overdue contributions from 2019 and 2020, South Korean television network MBC reported Friday.