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Politics

Malaysia imposes travel ban for North Korea

Tensions on the peninsula worsen already-strained ties

A man takes part in a protest at the North Korea Embassy following the killing of Kim Jong Nam in Kuala Lumpur in February.   © Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR -- Malaysians have been barred from traveling to North Korea, effective immediately, until further notice, the country's Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday, citing escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula and Pyongyang's missile tests as reasons.

The travel ban follows a visit to Washington by Prime Minister Najib Razak, who told U.S. President Donald Trump on Sept. 12 that Malaysia has stopped doing business with North Korea, in line with United Nations sanctions on the North.

The barrage of name-calling and threats between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in recent weeks has further ratcheted up tensions in Asia.

Ties between Malaysia and North Korea have soured since the killing of Kim's half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, in February. The trial of two women of suspected of carrying out the deadly attack at Kuala Lumpur International Airport will begin Monday.

North Korea attempted to mend fences with Malaysia following the incident, promising safe passage for the Malaysian national soccer team to the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2018 qualifying final round in Pyongyang. An envoy from the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur met with officials of the Malaysian squad recently, pledging to protect players and officials at the upcoming match, which has been postponed twice so far this year due to the killing of Kim Jong Nam.

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