Malaysia to reopen embassy in Pyongyang

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Malaysian police officers are seen in front of the North Korea embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, February 23, 2017. Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia will reopen its embassy in Pyongyang, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said, suggesting an end to the diplomatic row over the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s half-brother in Kuala Lumpur last year.

“Yes, we will reopen the embassy,” Mahathir said in an interview with the Nikkei Asian Review published on Monday during his trip to Japan.

Malaysia’s once-close ties with North Korea were downgraded after Kim Jong Nam was killed at the Kuala Lumpur International airport in February last year when two women smeared his face with VX nerve agent, which the United Nations lists as a weapon of mass destruction.

During their ongoing trial, the women said they were tricked into believing they were part of a reality show and did not know they were handling poison.

The United States and South Korea have said the murder was orchestrated by Pyongyang.

After Kim Jong Nam’s death, North Korea’s ambassador to Malaysia questioned the credibility of the Malaysian police probe and insisted he was an ordinary citizen who died of a heart attack.

Malaysia then recalled its ambassador to North Korea, banned its citizens from travelling to the North and cancelled visa-free entry for North Koreans.

North Korea retaliated with a travel ban on all Malaysians in Pyongyang, trapping three diplomats and six family members.

They were able to fly out only after Malaysia agreed to hand over Kim Jong Nam’s corpse and send three North Koreans wanted for questioning back to North Korea.

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