North Korea cuts diplomatic ties with Malaysia over US extradition | News | DW | 19.03.2021

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North Korea cuts diplomatic ties with Malaysia over US extradition

North Korean state media says one of its citizens has been handed over by Malaysia to US authorities to face money laundering charges. Pyongyang said the court ruling was an "absurd fabrication and sheer plot."

Kim Jong Un und Joe Biden

The extradition of a North Korean man to the US from Malaysia is the latest rift between Pyongyang and Washington amid stalled diplomatic talks

North Korea cut diplomatic ties with Malaysia on Friday in protest at a court ruling that handed over one of its citizens accused of money laundering to the US, state media KCNA reported, carrying a statement from the Foreign Ministry.

Pyongyang called the charges an "absurd fabrication and sheer plot" orchestrated by Washington that it branded "the principal enemy of our state."

Satelliite images of Yongbyon

Satelliite images of Yongbyon, where North Korea is suspected of trying to extract plutonium to make more nuclear weapons at the complex

The Foreign Ministry said Malaysia had committed "a super-large hostile act" by agreeing to extradite a man who had been "engaged for years in the legitimate external trade activities in Singapore."

As a result, Pyongyang said a "total severance" of diplomatic relations with Malaysia would follow. It claimed that the US "will also be made to pay a due price." 

Malaysian officials have not commented on the reports.

North Korean accused of money laundering

Malaysia's top court dismissed an assertion earlier this month that the charges were politically motivated, ruling that that Mun Chol Myong could be extradited.

Mun, who is in his 50s, had been arrested in 2019 after the United States accused him of laundering funds through front companies and issuing fraudulent documents to support illicit shipments to North Korea.

Malaysia's government approved the request from the US, but Mun challenged the move in court.

Deadlocked diplomacy

The case comes amid deadlocked nuclear diplomacy between Washington and Pyongyang.

Diplomatic effortsto persuade North Korea to abandon its advancing nuclear arsenal have stalled for more than two years because of disputes over US-led sanctions on North Korea.

On Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in the South Korean capital Seoul that President Joe Biden's administration would review its North Korea policy in the next few weeks in close consultation with allies.

North Korea's statement on Friday also made an explicit reference to the country being "in a state of war for over 70 years" with the US, a reference to no formal ceasefire ever having been signed in the aftermath of the 1950-53 Korean War.

jf/msh (AP, Reuters)