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Britain Expels Gun-Toting Vietnamese Diplomat

From Times Wire Services

Britain on Saturday ordered the immediate expulsion of a Vietnamese diplomat who pointed a gun at refugees during a demonstration outside the Vietnamese Embassy last Sunday, a Foreign Office spokesman said.

It was the first diplomatic dispute between the two nations since they re-established relations in 1974.

The spokesman said Foreign Office Minister Timothy Eggar told Vietnamese Ambassador Trang Van Hung that he viewed the offense so seriously that the diplomat, Third Secretary Khang Than Nhan, would not be accorded the usual period of notice to leave the country. The spokesman said Khang must leave by midnight tonight.

On Wednesday, Eggar gave the ambassador 24 hours to explain why Khang was pictured in London newspapers pointing a handgun at the Vietnamese refugees.

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He was also told to surrender any weapons in possession of the embassy, and in a bizarre twist of diplomatic finesse, the ambassador returned to Eggar the next day and handed over a toy gun.

But he said he had heard there might be a real gun on the premises and would report back to the Foreign Office.

At their third meeting Saturday, he handed Eggar a real gun but said the Vietnamese government could not allow a waiver of diplomatic immunity to bring legal proceedings against Khang.

Diplomatic missions in Britain are not allowed to keep arms. The government has taken violations seriously since a gunman firing from the Libyan Embassy killed a London policewoman in 1984.

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