A day after Malaysia recalled its envoy to Pyongyang, the country has summoned the North Korean ambassador over Pyongyang’s attack on its investigation into the assassination of leader Kim Jong-Nam, the brother of Kim Jong-Un.
The diplomatic row between the two countries seems to be getting worse, after five North Koreans are in the frame for last week’s airport killing. The arrests have drawn a furious response from Pyongyang which has accused Kuala Lumpur of conspiring with “hostile forces” to damage its reputation
Malaysia summoned the North Korean ambassador today for a dressing-down over Pyongyang’s attack on its investigation into the assassination of leader Kim Jong-Nam’s brother, deepening a diplomatic row.
“The ministry emphasised that as the death occurred on Malaysian soil under mysterious circumstances, it is the responsibility of the Malaysian government to conduct an investigation to identify the cause of death,” the Malaysian foreign ministry said.
The row erupted when Malaysian police rejected North Korean diplomats’ demands to hand over the body of Kim Jong-Nam after he was apparently poisoned at Kuala Lumpur’s international airport.
Ambassador Kang Chol last week told reporters outside the morgue where Jong-Nam’s body is being held that Malaysia was being pressured by South Korea in a bid to defame its northern neighbour.
Seoul has pointed the finger of blame for the attack at the North, citing a “standing order” from Kim Jong-Un to kill his elder sibling and a failed assassination bid in 2012 after he criticised the regime.
“The Malaysian government takes very seriously any unfounded attempt to tarnish its reputation,” the statement said, after the ambassador’s meeting with Deputy Secretary General for Bilateral Affairs Raja Nushirwan Zainal Abidin.
On Sunday, the police said they believed five North Koreans were involved in the killing, with four having fled the country on the day of the murder.
Officers have already arrested one North Korean living in Kuala Lumpur, an Indonesian woman and her Malaysian boyfriend, as well as a Vietnamese woman.
Three more North Koreans were wanted for questioning, police said.
According to the police, last week as Jong-Nam prepared to board a plane to Macau, two women squirted liquid in his face. The 45-year-old Jong-Nam suffered a seizure and died before arriving at the hospital.
Jong-Nam was once thought to be the natural successor to his father, the then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il.
But after Jong-Il’s death in 2011 the succession went instead to his younger half-brother Kim Jong-Un.
(With inputs from agencies)