North Korea: Stranded UN staff arrive in Beijing

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UN Secretary-General, António Guterres
UN Secretary-General, António Guterres

Two United Nations workers who were among 11 Malaysians stranded in North Korea since Pyongyang imposed a travel ban this week have left the country and arrived in Beijing, the UN said on Thursday.

The extraordinary move by Pyongyang on Tuesday saw Malaysia retaliate with a similar ban on North Korean nationals as relations between the two nations have plummeted since the February 13 killing of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in Kuala Lumpur.

A spokesperson for the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) confirmed that two of its employees had left North Korea.

“WFP confirms that two WFP staff of Malaysian nationality have left [North] Korea and arrived in Beijing today.

The staff members are international civil servants and not representatives of their national government. They work on WFP’s programmes in [Nroth] Korea,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Diplomatic relations between Kuala Lumpur and Pyongyang have sharply deteriorated since last month’s murder. North Korea’s ambassador to Malaysia was forced to leave the country, and the Malaysian ambassador to North Korea was also ordered to leave Pyongyang.

Kim Jong Nam died at Kuala Lumpur’s international airport, less than an hour after two women allegedly rubbed VX nerve agent on his face. The women have since claimed they were tricked into thinking they were participating in a hoax.

Kim Jong Nam had lived in Macau in recent years.(dpa/NAN)


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