Kim Jong-nam assassination: Malaysia cancels visa-free travel for North Koreans

Malaysians are the only people in the world who can enter North Korea without a visa
Kim Jong-nam was killed using VX Nerve, declared... Source: PTI
India TV News Desk Kuala Lumpur 02 Mar 2017, 12:12:05 PM IST

The assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, has strained the country’s ties with Malaysia, with the country deciding to cancel the visa exemptions it accorded to  North Korean nationals as a measure of national security. The decision was announced by Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi on Thursday who cited security reasons behind the move.

Ahmad Zahid said the rule would come into effect from March 6, Malaysia's news agency reported.

"I hope the decision of the Home Ministry will be implemented by the Immigration Department for the sake of national security," he told the media.

Previously, all that was required for citizens of North Korea and Malaysia to enter both countries was a passport. In fact, Malaysians are the only people in the world who can enter North Korea without a visa.

Ahmad Zahid, who is also Home Minister, said he was waiting to be briefed by the ministry's legal adviser and the Attorney-General's Chambers on the status of the North Korean chemist held over the death of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged brother of Pyongyang leader Kim Jong-un, The Malaysian Star daily said.

"We will know in the next few hours whether the man will be released, investigated or deported," he said.

According to reports, North Korean Ri Jong Chol is expected to be released from police custody when his remand order expires on Friday.

Malaysia has also named four North Korean suspects who they believe are back in Pyongyang and three North Koreans wanted for questioning.

Kim Jong Nam was killed on February 13 at the Kuala Lumpur airport. He was attacked with VX nerve agent, which according to the UN is a weapon of mass destruction.

Two women were charged with his murder on Wednesday.

Malaysia has also named four North Korean suspects who they believe are back in Pyongyang and three North Koreans wanted for questioning.

Ties between North Korea and Malaysia hit a downward spiral following the assassination of Kim Jong-nam at a Malaysian airport. Malaysia's insistence to conduct an autopsy riled North Korea which went to the extent of saying that Malaysia was colluding with Pyongyang's adversaries and that it would not believe any findings that the report throws up.

Diplomatic ties have already been hit with Malaysia threatening the North Korean Ambassador with expulsion. Malaysia has also recalled its envoy to North Korea as a fallout of the tussle.

(With IANS inputs)

 

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