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Kuwait Poised to Expel North Korean Ambassador

A woman watches a TV screen showing a file footage of North Korea's missile launch, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Sept. 15, 2017.

Kuwait will expel North Korea's ambassador to the Gulf country along with four other diplomats, sources said Sunday.

North Korea's diplomatic presence in the oil-rich state will be reduced to a chargé d'affaires and three diplomats, diplomatic sources told news agencies on the condition of anonymity.

The announcement comes two days after North Korea launched another missile over Japan, and less than a week after the United Nations imposed additional sanctions on Pyongyang for conducting its sixth nuclear test.

It follows a visit less than two weeks ago by Kuwait Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah to Washington, where he met with U.S. President Donald Trump. In a statement, the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait City called Kuwait "a key regional partner on [North Korea] and many other issues."

Thousands of North Korean laborers work in Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.

Though they comprise a small market compared to China and Russia, sending workers to the Gulf countries helps Pyongyang evade international sanctions. The reduction in diplomatic staff in Kuwait could limit North Korea's ability to earn money for its nuclear program through these workers, as some reports say the embassy has also decided not to renew work permits for North Koreans.