Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Pakistan apologized for breaking into the North Korean Embassy

Pakistan has apologized to North Korea for raiding the North Korean Embassy in a bizarre diplomatic row involving rogue cops and allegedly illicit booze. The Pakistani foreign office said it was a violation of diplomatic protocol and vowed not to repeat it. (https://www.vice.com/en/article/dypkna/north-korea-pakistani-police-raided-its-embassy-over-bootlegging-suspicions) The embassy accused Islamabad police of breaking into its premises and threatening intervening diplomatic staff with guns. Local media reported that police in the Pakistani capital acted on a tip that the mission was keeping a “huge quantity of liquor.” Alcohol is off-limits to Pakistan’s Muslim population but diplomats are allowed to buy it in certain amounts. The allegation of North Korean stockpiling of booze echoes earlier suspicions that some diplomats were secretly selling alcohol in the lucrative black market to funnel funds to cash-strapped Pyongyang, after a 2017 robbery accidentally revealed that a North Korean diplomat in Islamabad held thousands of bottles of whisky, beer and French wine. In a letter protesting the raid, the North Korean mission said seven police officers entered the embassy through a back gate without its consent to search a storeroom in the backyard. The officers threatened diplomatic staff with guns when they tried to stop the search, the letter said. Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid apologised for the incident and called it a “misunderstanding.”

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