12:38 GMT +318 October 2019
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    Malaysia, North Korea to Begin Talks to Allow Citizens to Return Home

    © AFP 2019 / MOHD RASFAN
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    Malaysia and North Korea will soon begin talks to ensure each others' stranded citizens are able to return home.

    Foreign Minister of Malaysia Anifah Aman told a news conference March 11 that negotiations would begin "in the next few days."

    "They want to start talking, but… before we start talking we have to establish a lot of factors first," he said, DW reports.

    Relations between the two nations have spiraled downward since the bizarre murder of the half-brother of North Korea's leader in Kuala Lumpur's international airport. Accusations about interfering in the investigation have been hurled, ambassadors have been declared personae non gratae, and the governments remain locked in an argument over Kim Jong-nam's body.

    In the meantime, nine Malaysians have been stuck in Pyongyang. The North Korean government blocked all Malaysian citizens from leaving the country early this week, prompting Malaysia to put a similar ban on North Korean diplomatic staff on their soil. Malaysia's prime minister called an emergency meeting after Pyongyang barred the exits, but lines of communication have remained open.

    Aman said there would be no "third party" at the coming talks, though several countries have offered to mediate. He also said the tricky issue of releasing the body will be addressed. "We don't want to keep the body more than what is necessary," he said.

    South Korea has declared North Korea to be behind the February 13 murder, which Malaysian officials say was done by smearing Kim's face with the deadly VX nerve agent. North Korea denies any involvement, and its officials have suggested that it is Malaysia which has "something to conceal." Malaysian officials have detained several people in connection with the murder, among them North Koreans. 

    The prime minister of Malaysia on Friday asked the country to pray for the success of efforts to bring Malaysia's citizens home. 

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    Tags:
    Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK), citizens, murder, Kim Jong-nam, Anifah Aman, Pyongyang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
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