Malaysia will cancel visa-free entry for North Koreans entering the country from March 6, state news agency Bernama reported on Thursday (02/03), as diplomatic ties between the two countries frayed further following the murder of Kim Jong-nam at the Kuala Lumpur airport.(Reuters Photo/Lai Seng Sin)

Malaysia to Cancel Visa-Free Entry for North Koreans: Agency

BY :A. ANANTHALAKSHMI

MARCH 02, 2017

Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia will cancel visa-free entry for North Koreans entering the country from March 6, state news agency Bernama reported on Thursday (02/03), as diplomatic ties between the two countries frayed further following the murder of Kim Jong-nam at the Kuala Lumpur airport.

North Koreans will be required to obtain a visa before entering Malaysia for national security reasons, Bernama reported, citing the deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Malaysia was one of the few countries that North Koreans could visit without obtaining a visa beforehand. Under a reciprocal arrangement, Malaysians are among the few foreigners granted visa-free entry to the secretive, nuclear-armed state.

The move comes two weeks after Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was killed at the Kuala Lumpur airport with a toxic nerve agent.

Diplomatic ties between Malaysia and North Korea have soured since the murder, which South Korea and United States say was an assassination organized by North Korean agents.

North Korea tried to convince Malaysia not to perform an autopsy on Kim Jong-nam's body, and to release three suspects detained in connection with the killing.

A high level North Korean diplomatic delegation arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday and has held talks with members of the Malaysian cabinet to press those demands.

Malaysia has charged an Indonesian woman and a Vietnamese woman with murder, but police are also holding one North Korean man and want to question seven others, including a senior official stationed at the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia has insisted that laws of the country will be followed and has refused to release the body to the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur, while waiting for next of kin to come forward.

Malaysia is considering expelling North Korea's envoy to the Southeast Asian nation or shutting its embassy in Pyongyang, a senior government official told Reuters last week, when the Malaysian ambassador was recalled for consultations.

Following a Reuters report this week that the North Korean intelligence agency has been running an arms operations from Kuala Lumpur for years, the Malaysian police have said they will strike two related companies off the country's company registry.

The severe strain on the relationship follows decades of friendly ties between the two countries.

North Korea and Malaysia have maintained cozy ties since the 1970s when former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad embraced the isolated state, in part to rebuff the United States.

Palm oil and rubber are staple Malaysian exports to the communist state. Cars made by the Malaysian national automaker, Proton, have been sold to North Korea and are widely used as taxis in that country.

Reuters

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