Malaysia expels North Korean ambassador after Kim Jong Nam murder

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KUALA LUMPUR, March 4 (Reuters) - Malaysia on Saturday expelled the North Korean ambassador to the country, declaring him "persona non grata" and asking the envoy to leave Malaysia within 48 hours.

The move comes nearly three weeks after Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was murdered at Kuala Lumpur's airport with a toxic nerve agent.

Related: Kim Jong Nam

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Kim Jong Nam

Kim Jong Nam arrives at Beijing airport in Beijing, China, in this photo taken by Kyodo February 11, 2007.

(Kyodo/via REUTERS)

This combo shows a file photo (L) taken on May 4, 2001 of a man believed to be Kim Jong-Nam, son of the late-North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, getting off a bus to board an All Nippon Airways plane at Narita airport near Tokyo and a file photo (R) of his half-brother, current North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, on a balcony of the Grand People's Study House following a mass parade in Pyongyang on May 10, 2016. The half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, who has been murdered in Malaysia, pleaded for his life after a failed assassination bid in 2012, lawmakers briefed by South Korea's spy chief said on February 15, 2017. Jong-Nam, the eldest son of the late former leader Kim Jong-Il, was once seen as heir apparent but fell out of favor following an embarrassing botched bid in 2001 to enter Japan on a forged passport and visit Disneyland.

(TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA,ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)

A man (R) believed to be North Korean heir-apparent Kim Jong Nam, is escorted by police as he boards a plane upon his deportation from Japan at Tokyo's Narita international airport in Narita, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo May 4, 2001. 

(Kyodo/via REUTERS)

A man watches a television showing news reports of Kim Jong-Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, in Seoul on February 14, 2017. Kim Jong-Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has been assassinated in Malaysia, South Korean media reported on February 14.

(JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)

In a picture taken on June 4, 2010 Kim Jong-Nam, the eldest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, waves after an interview with South Korean media representatives in Macau. Kim Jong-Nam was in the limelight with Seoul's JoongAng Ilbo newspaper carrying a snatched interview with him at a hotel in Macau. Jong-Nam declined knowledge of the warship incident, it reported, and said his father is 'doing well'. North Korean Leader Leader Kim Jong-Il on June 7 attended a rare second annual session of parliament at which Kim's brother-in-law was promoted and the country's prime minister was sacked, state media reported.

(JoongAng Sunday/AFP/Getty Images)

This photo taken on February 11, 2007 shows a man believed to be then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il's eldest son, Kim Jong-Nam (C), walking amongst journalists upon his arrival at Beijing's international airport. The half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, who has been murdered in Malaysia, pleaded for his life after a failed assassination bid in 2012, lawmakers briefed by South Korea's spy chief said on February 15, 2017.

(JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)

BEIJING, CHINA: A man believed to be the eldest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, Kim Jong-Nam, answers Japanese reporters' questions at the Beijing International airport, 25 September 2004.

(JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)

A man believed to be North Korean heir-apparent Kim Jong-nam emerges from a bus as he is escorted by Japanese authorities upon his deportation from Japan at Tokyo's Narita international airport May 4, 2001. Believed to be Kim Jong-nam, eldest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, the man entered Japan with a forged passport on Tuesday, but was deported to China on Friday.

(Eriko Sugita / Reuters)

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U.S. and South Korean officials have said he was killed by agents of the North Korean regime.

Kang Chol, North Korea's ambassador to Malaysia, said last month his country "cannot trust" Malaysia's handling of the probe, and also accused the country of "colluding with outside forces" in a veiled reference to bitter rival South Korea.

Malaysian foreign minister Anifah Haji Aman said in a statement on Saturday that Malaysia had demanded an apology from the ambassador for his comments, but none was forthcoming.

"Malaysia will react strongly against any insults made against it or any attempt to tarnish its reputation," Anifah said.

Related: Kim Jong Nam investigation

10 PHOTOS
Kim Jong Nam murder investigation
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Kim Jong Nam murder investigation
Malaysia's Royal Police Chief Khalid Abu Bakar (C) speaks next to a screen showing North Korean Kim Uk Il during a news conference regarding the apparent assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of the North Korean leader, at the Malaysian police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, February 22, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
Malaysia's Royal Police Chief Khalid Abu Bakar (C) speaks next to a screen showing North Korean suspect Ri Ji U during a news conference regarding the apparent assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of the North Korean leader, at the Malaysian police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, February 22, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
Malaysia's Royal Police Chief Khalid Abu Bakar (C) speaks next to a screen showing North Korean suspect Ri Ji U during a news conference regarding the apparent assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of the North Korean leader, at the Malaysian police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, February 22, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
Malaysian police officers gather in front of the gate of the morgue at Kuala Lumpur General Hospital where Kim Jong Nam's body is held for autopsy in Malaysia February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
A reporter holds up a local newspaper during his report in front of the morgue at Kuala Lumpur General Hospital where Kim Jong Nam's body is held for autopsy in Malaysia February 18, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
Malaysia's Royal Police Chief Khalid Abu Bakar demonstrates to the media during a news conference regarding the apparent assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of the North Korean leader, at the Malaysian police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, February 22, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
Nguyen Thi Vy, 54, mother in law of Doan Thi Huong, a suspect involved in the assassination of Kim Jong-Un's half-brother, looks at handouts and published photographs of the four arrested suspects including Huong at Huong's family home in Nghia Hung district, northern province of Nam Dinh on February 22, 2017. Detectives probing the assassination of Kim Jong-Un's half-brother want to question a North Korean diplomat, Malaysia's top policeman said. Royal Malaysian Police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said Vietnamese suspect Doan Thi Huong, 28, and Indonesian Siti Aishah, 25, had been trained to swab the man's face, practising in Kuala Lumpur before the assault at the airport. / AFP / HOANG DINH NAM (Photo credit should read HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/Getty Images)
A look at the murder of Kim Jong Nam, North Korea leader Kim Jong Un's estranged half brother.
Package looking at Kim Jong Nam's movement, the Kim family and the purge led by Kim Jong Un.
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