N. Korea to sever ties with Malaysia over extradition of citizen to US, says report


SEOUL (Reuters): North Korea said it would sever diplomatic relations with Malaysia after a court there ruled that a North Korean man could be extradited to the United States to face money laundering charges, state media KCNA reported on Friday (March 19).

North Korea's foreign affairs ministry also warned Washington would "pay a price", in a statement carried by KCNA.

On March 9, Malaysia's top court ruled that a North Korean man, Mun Chol Myong, could be extradited to the United States to face money laundering charges, according to media reports.

Mun 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. He fought the extradition request, arguing that it was politically motivated.

The ministry called the extradition a "nefarious act and unpardonably heavy crime" by Malaysian authorities, who had "offered our citizen as a sacrifice of the US hostile move in defiance of the acknowledged international laws."

Malaysia's actions had destroyed "the entire foundation of the bilateral relations based on the respect for sovereignty," it said.

Malaysia's once-close ties with North Korea were severely downgraded after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's estranged brother, Kim Jong Nam, was killed at a Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017 when two women smeared his face with VX nerve agent, which the United Nations lists as a weapon of mass destruction.

"We warn in advance that the US - the backstage manipulator and main culprit of this incident - that it will also be made to pay a due price," KCNA reported.

On Thursday US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the administration of President Joe Biden would complete a review of its North Korea policy in the next few weeks in close consultation with allies. - Reuters

(Reporting by Sangmi Cha, Josh Smith; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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