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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the Headquarters of Large Combined Unit 966 of the Korean People's Army (KPA) in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on March 1, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS(reuters_tickers)
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia on Saturday rejected any suggestion it may have violated sanctions imposed by the United Nations on North Korea, after a Reuters report said North Korea-linked firms were running an arms network in the country.
Malaysia has for years been one of the few countries in the world to have strong ties with North Korea but their relationship has been damaged by the killing of the half-brother of the North Korean leader, at Kula Lumpur airport, on Feb. 13.
Reuters reported on Monday that North Korean intelligence agents used front companies to run an arms sales operation out of Malaysia under a brand called Glocom.
The foreign ministry issued a statement on Saturday rejecting any violation of U.N. sanctions.
"Malaysia categorically rejects any such insinuation," the ministry said.
Glocom, which was linked in website registration data to two Malaysian companies controlled by North Korean shareholders and directors, sells battlefield radio equipment in violation of U.N. sanctions, according to a U.N. report submitted to the Security Council and seen by Reuters.
Glocom is controlled by the Reconnaissance General Bureau, the North Korean intelligence agency tasked with overseas operations and weapons procurement, the U.N. report said, citing undisclosed information.
U.N. ASKED FOR EXPULSION
Reuters found that Glocom advertises more than 30 radio systems for "military and paramilitary" organisations on its Malaysian website, glocom.com.my.
The foreign ministry said Malaysia highly valued the work carried out by the UNSC Panel of Experts by ensuring the full implementation of all relevant resolutions.
The ministry, which did not name Glocom in its statement, said Malaysia had provided required responses to queries raised by a U.N. Security Council (UNSC) Panel of Experts and will fully cooperate.
The United Nations panel said in its unreleased report that it had asked the Malaysian government if it would expel Glocom’s North Korean representative in Malaysia and freeze the assets of the two Malaysian companies to comply with U.N. sanctions. The U.N. did not say when it made the request.
"The panel has yet to receive an answer," said the U.N. report, which is due to be released later this month.
Malaysia's investigation of the killing of Kim Jong Nam, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s estranged half-brother, has angered North Korea.
Malaysia deported a North Korean suspect in the murder on Friday, and police issued an arrest warrant for another North Korean wanted in connection with the killing.
The deported North Korean, Ri Jong Chol, said in Beijing that he was a victim of a conspiracy by Malaysian authorities attempting to damage the honour of North Korea.
(Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Robert Birsel and Bill Tarrant)