Malaysia cancels visa exemption for North Koreans

Kuala Lumpur, March 2 (IANS) Malaysia will cancel visa-free entry for North Koreans, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced on Thursday, citing security reasons.

Ahmad Zahid said the rule would come into effective 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, citizens of North Korea and Malaysia only need to use their passports to enter both the countries.

Malaysian nationals are currently 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.

–IANS

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