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Malaysia and North Korea agree deal on Kim's body

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Kim Jong Nam's death sparked a diplomatic dispute between the countries (AP)

Kim Jong Nam's death sparked a diplomatic dispute between the countries (AP)

Kim Jong Nam's death sparked a diplomatic dispute between the countries (AP)

Malaysia said yesterday it had agreed to release the body of Kim Jong-nam to North Korea in exchange for the return of nine Malaysians held in the North's capital.

Relations between Malaysia and North Korea have been badly frayed by the murder of the North Korean leader's half brother at Kuala Lumpur's airport.

Both countries withdrew their ambassadors and North Korea blocked nine Malaysians from leaving the country.

Malaysia responded in kind, barring North Koreans from exiting its soil, including three suspects believed to be hiding in the North Korean Embassy.

Following negotiations that he described as "very sensitive," Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak said North Korea had allowed the nine Malaysians to leave, and that Malaysia had agreed to release Mr Kim's remains to North Korea. He didn't say whether Mr Kim's body had already left Malaysia.

Earlier, a van was seen leaving the morgue where Mr Kim's body was being held, after which police guards were removed. Mr Najib said in a statement that Malaysia would also "allow North Koreans to leave Malaysia" as part of the agreement. It wasn't clear whether that included the three suspects wanted by police.

The three include an embassy employee and an Air Koryo worker.

Four other North Korean suspects left the country on the day Mr Kim was killed.

"Following the completion of the autopsy on the deceased and receipt of a letter from his family requesting the remains be returned to North Korea, the coroner has approved the release of the body," Mr Najib said.

Irish Independent