Malaysia to cancel visa-free entry for North Koreans

Mar 2, 2017 15:15 IST

Malaysia has decided to cancel the visa-free travel permit to the North Koreans, following the murder of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at the Kuala Lumpur airport.

The announcement was made by the country’s deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid. The visa-free entry for North Koreans will be cancelled from 6 March 2017.

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Key highlights

• Zahid announced that after 6 March, North Koreans would be required to obtain a visa before entering Malaysia due to national security reasons.

• Kim Jong Nam was murdered at the Kuala Lumpur airport with a toxic nerve agent.  Two women, one from Vietnam and other from Indonesia were charged with his murder.

• The incident led to the souring of diplomatic ties between the two nations.

• Not only did North Korea deny the allegations set on it by the US and South Korea for the murder of Kim, but it also attempted to convince Malaysia to not perform an autopsy on Kim’s body and to release the North Korean suspect detained in connection with the murder.

• A high-level delegation arrived in Kuala Lumpur from North Korea to discuss the same with the Malaysian cabinet on 28 February 2017.

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Malaysia has however insisted on following its own laws and refused to release the body to the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur, opting to wait for a family member to come forward. The country is also investigating the involvement of seven others in the case including a senior official from the North Korean embassy.

Prior to this, both the countries shared a friendly relation. Their cordial ties go way back to 1970s when former Malaysian Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad, embraced the isolated state to snub the United States of America.

In fact, Malaysia is one of the few countries that offered North Koreans visa-free travel and in reciprocation North Korea too allowed Malaysians to enter their super secretive region without a visa, making them the only foreigners to be able to do so in the world.

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