North Korea has accused the US authorities of “literally mugging” its diplomats at a New York airport.
A spokesman for the secretive state said its officials had been “robbed” of a diplomatic package at John F Kennedy Airport on Friday.
North Korea’s state news agency KCNA said the incident proved the US was a “lawless gangster state”.
The White House – which considers “solving” the North Korea crisis a priority – has yet to comment.
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The North Korean diplomats were reportedly returning from a UN conference on disability rights when the incident – branded by KCNA as a “illegal and heinous act of provocation” – took place.
“The international community needs to seriously reconsider whether or not New York, where such an outrageous mugging is rampant, is fit to serve as the venue for international meetings,” KCNA said.
This alleged incident marks the latest addition to a catalogue of increasingly strained tensions between the two countries.
Last week, North Korea returned US university student Otto Warmbier to his family, more than a year after he had been sentenced to 15 years’ hard labour.
Mr Warmbier was in a coma, showed no understanding of language, and had extensive brain tissue loss.
Pyongyang said Mr Warmbier’s coma was caused by botulism and a sleeping pill he took after his trial last year.
However, US doctors disputed this, while Mr Warmbier’s father said: “Even if you believe their explanation of botulism and a sleeping pill causing the coma – and we don’t – there’s no excuse for a civilised nation to have kept his condition secret and to have denied him top notch medical care.”
North Korea had accused Mr Warmbier – who had been on a tour of the country – of stealing a propaganda sign, claims disputed by those who were with him on the trip.
North Korea says US ‘mugged’ its diplomats in New York