Malaysia says won't break ties with North Korea

FILE- In this Tuesday

The two women, an Indonesian and a Vietnamese, who smeared the nerve agent on Kim Jong nam's face, are in custody facing murder charges, but we do not know how much they have been able to tell the Malaysians.

Kim Jong Nam, the half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was murdered at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on February 13 by assassins using VX nerve agent, a chemical so lethal that it is on a United Nations list of weapons of mass destruction.

"There can be no substitute for diplomacy, for level-headedness in dealing with such situations, and this has served Malaysia well in this instance", he said.

Malaysian authorities said they had the right to conduct an autopsy as he had been killed on Malaysian soil, and said they would only release the body to Mr Kim's family.

Mr Kim's body was released to North Korea and flown first to Beijing, and then on to Pyongyang. It then was leaked to the South Korean media.

The suspects had been caught up in a diplomatic battle following the freaky killing of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half brother of North Korea's ruler. Pyongyang continues to refer to him as Kim Chol, the name on the diplomatic passport Kim was carrying when he died.

Analysts said the North Korean regime may use Kim's body as a "propaganda tool".

It has denied any role in the Kim Jong Nam's killing and denounced the investigation as flawed and politically motivated.

"It is a win (for North Korea), clearly", Andrei Lankov, North Korea expert at Seoul's Kookmin University said on the swap deal.

"Everyone wants to return to religion, but sometimes they were manipulated due to their lack of understanding about Islam".

The brazen nature of the assassination also made collecting evidence relatively easy.

Malaysian prosecutors have charged two women - an Indonesian and a Vietnamese - with killing him, but South Korean and USA officials had regarded themas pawns in an operation carried out by North Korean agents.


"(The North Koreans) met both objectives", he said.

Captured by CCTV footage at the airport, the men - later identified by South Korea as agents of Pyongyang's Ministry of State Security - were nearby when Kim was poisoned.

Although that visa arrangement was scrapped after the killing, it meant that Malaysia had been a quiet destination for North Koreans looking for jobs, schools and business deals.

The three men who were hiding in the embassy - including an embassy official and a North Korean airline worker - flew Thursday to Beijing, where they were seen at the airport Friday, presumably on their way home.

This photo, published by the North's Korean Central News Agency on March 15, 2017, shows one of the posters issued to mark the 105th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung.

They were believed to be returning home with the coffin of the victim Friday.

It stranded three diplomats and their family members - including four children - in Pyongyang.

At the press conference today, Khalid added that police had taken statements from the three North Koreans wanted for questioning in the murder before they were allowed to leave the country.

This after a weeks-long diplomatic standoff between Malaysia and North Korea came to an end as the two countries reached a deal on the murder case of Kim Jong-nam. Najib said in a statement that Malaysia would also "allow North Koreans to leave Malaysia" as part of the agreement.

The two left Malaysia on Thursday and were spotted at the airport in Beijing on Friday.

"We are thankful that all nine have returned to us safe and sound".

Oh Ei Sun, an adjunct senior fellow with Singapore's Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said it was not a surprise that North Korea did well in the negotiations.

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