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Monday, March 6, 2017, 23:00

DPRK declares Malaysian envoy ‘persona non grata’

By Xinhua

DPRK declares Malaysian envoy ‘persona non grata’
Kang Chol, expelled ambassador of Democratic People's Republic of Korea to Malaysia, (L) is escorted by police to the departure hall of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang on March 6, 2017. (Mohd Rasfan / AFP)

PYONGYANG/ KUALA LUMPUR – The foreign ministry of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Monday declared the ambassador of Malaysia "persona non grata", asking the diplomat to leave the country in 48 hours.

The official news agency KCNA carried a brief statement of the foreign ministry on the announcement. The envoy has been asked to leave the DPRK in 48 hours from 10:00 am local time (0130 GMT) on Sunday.

The decision came after Malaysia declared the ambassador of the DPRK to the country, Kang Chol, "persona non grata" on Saturday night and asked him to leave Malaysia in 48 hours, amid a row over investigation into the death of a DPRK man .

Kang and the DPRK government accused the Malaysian side several times of "colluding with hostile forces" in its investigation into the death of the DPRK man on Feb 13 in Kuala Lumpur, and refused to trust the probe.

A DPRK national, identified as Kim Chol, was attacked on Feb 13 at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport Terminal 2. After seeking help from the airport staff, he died en route to hospital.

The Malaysian side said the DPRK man died a painful death minutes after being swabbed with a high dosage of lethal VX nerve agent after the body was examined.

READ MORE: Citizen's death: DPRK embassy demands release of suspects

However, Pyongyang claimed it was an anti-DPRK smear campaign and accused the Malaysian government of conniving with the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the United States that intended to use the death of the DPRK citizen to tarnish its image and even to overthrow the DPRK system.

Pyongyang also sent a high-level delegation to Malaysia to discuss the matter and has urged Malaysia to return the body as soon as possible. But the request was rejected by the Malaysian government.

Ri Tong Il, spokesman for the DPRK delegation to Malaysia, said the DPRK man had a history of heart decease, had received treatment from time to time and normally could not travel without medicine.

DPRK declares Malaysian envoy ‘persona non grata’

A TV screen shows a picture of Kim Jong - nam, the older brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong - un, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Feb 14, 2017. Malaysian officials say a North Korean man died after suddenly becoming ill at Kuala Lumpur's airport. The district police chief said he could not confirm South Korean media reports that the man was Kim Jong - nam. (Ahn Young - joon / AP)

R i also raised the doubts on how the man died on the spot while the two suspects survived the highly toxic VX nerve agent.

Meanwhile, Malaysia decided to revoke visa-free entry for citizens from the DPRK starting from Monday, saying that the decision was made after taking into account national security as a priority.

Malaysian measures ‘to harm bilateral ties’

Ambassador Kang Chol spoke to the media on Monday for the first time since the Malaysian government declared him “persona non grata".

He made the remarks in Korean at the Kuala Lumpur airport before boarding his flight to leave the country. An embassy staff translated his remarks.

The statement I have made is an expression of the righteous stand as the ambassador of DPRK to this country

Ambassador Kang Chol, DPRK

"The statement I have made is an expression of the righteous stand as the ambassador of DPRK to this country, on the pre-targeted investigation by the Malaysian police, as they have conducted the autopsy without the consent of the DPRK embassy and later arrested a DPRK citizen without any clear evidence showing his involvement in the incident," Kang told reporters.

ALSO READ: Malaysian PM says to be objective in probe into DPRK man's death

The Malaysian government on Monday also directed the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) not to send the national football team to Pyongyang to play a match.

"The Malaysian government decision to expel the DPRK ambassador appears to have made it not safe for Malaysians to visit DPRK at this time," the FAM said in a statement, adding it has requested a change to the venue.

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