US backs Malaysia in NK diplomatic row, rep says

The US State Department’s East Asian and Pacific Affairs assistant secretary Daniel Russel also praised Malaysian authorities had carried out a professional investigation into the murder of King Jong-nam. — Reuters pic
The US State Department’s East Asian and Pacific Affairs assistant secretary Daniel Russel also praised Malaysian authorities had carried out a professional investigation into the murder of King Jong-nam. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 9 — The Unites States has expressed support for Malaysia in the ongoing diplomatic row with North Korea, branding the latter’s actions as “reprehensible”.

The US State Department’s East Asian and Pacific Affairs assistant secretary Daniel Russel also praised Malaysian authorities had carried out a professional investigation into the murder of King Jong-nam, The Star reported today.

“I want to express our respect and admiration for the professionalism of the Malaysian law enforcement authorities who worked from the facts in a quick, professional, and sophisticated manner,” Russel was quoted saying in a conference call from Washington DC yesterday.

He was speaking to journalists in one of his final press briefings before leaving his post at the end of this week to serve as senior fellow at the Asia Society Policy Institute, a think-and-do tank that tackles major policy challenges confronting the Asia Pacific region.

The senior US diplomat reportedly criticised Pyongyang’s decision to ban Malaysians from leaving the country, and blamed North Korea for the February 13 death of Kim Jong-nam on Malaysian soil.

“The hijacking of the territory of a country by a foreign power for the purpose of murder, for the purpose of political assassination is reprehensible.

“My sympathies go to Malaysia on that account,” he was quoted saying.

Russel also said Wisma Putra was acting accordingly to declare North Korean ambassador Kang Chol as persona non-grata and to expel him in the wake of an increasingly heated row between both countries.

Russel also shared Malaysia’s concerns for the welfare of its citizens currently stuck in North Korea because of the temporary ban.

“The US have some unfortunate examples of American citizens detained in DPRK. I can only hope there is a quick and satisfactory resolution to the issues between Malaysian and North Korea.”