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Thursday, March 11, 1999 Published at 13:53 GMT

World: Asia-Pacific

Thailand accuses North Korea over botched kidnap

Thailand has accused North Korea of violating its sovereignty by trying to smuggle home a diplomat alleged to have embezzled North Korean funds.

The foreign minister, Surin Pitsuwan, told reporters that Thailand had co-operated in trying to find the diplomat, who disappeared in mid-February, but the North Koreans had then taken the law into their own hands and seized the man illegally.

Thai police are holding the diplomat, Hong Sun Kyong, and his wife after a van carrying them overturned in the north-east of the country.

Five other North Koreans were also found in the vehicle, who police believe were in the process of smuggling the couple home via Laos. The Thai foreign minister confirmed on Thursday that Thailand was processing a request for asylum from the diplomat.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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