A North Korean diplomat suggested on Thursday that Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half brother of the country’s leader, died of heart failure despite Malaysia’s finding that he was killed by a banned nerve agent.
The diplomat, Ri Tong-il, who is leading a delegation to Malaysia, made the surprising assertion in Kuala Lumpur, the capital, during a visit aimed at repairing a diplomatic breach over the death. He said Mr. Kim had a history of heart disease and high blood pressure for which he needed medication.
But while asserting the cause of Mr. Kim’s death, without providing any evidence, he stood by his country’s refusal to acknowledge that the victim was the half brother of Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, instead calling him by the name Kim Chol, which South Korean officials have said is an alias.
He also called on Malaysia to provide samples of the VX nerve agent that the police say they found on the body to the international organization charged with carrying out the global treaty that bans the use of chemical weapons.