Football match postponed again as Malaysia bans all travel to North Korea

Malaysia has banned its citizens from travelling to North Korea as the country faces increasing diplomatic pressure over its weapons programmes.

The travel ban prompted the region's football governing body to postpone for the third time an Asian Cup qualifier match between Malaysia and North Korea scheduled for October 5 in Pyongyang. The match has already been delayed twice due to security issues.

The Asian Football Confederation said in a statement on Thursday that it will have to decide on the future status of the match.

Malaysia's foreign ministry cited North Korea's missile tests and related developments as the reasons for the travel ban and said it would last until further notice.

North Korea has been targeted in recent months by stricter sanctions and increasing diplomatic pressure, with Kuwait and Mexico expelling its envoys in recent weeks. Since July, North Korea has launched its first intercontinental ballistic missiles, flown mid-range missiles over Japan into the Pacific and detonated its sixth nuclear test.

Malaysia is one of its few remaining diplomatic partners in the world, even though tensions escalated after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's estranged half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, was killed at Kuala Lumpur airport in February. Both countries imposed travel bans on the other's citizens that were lifted after a deal was reached in March.

Two women from Vietnam and Indonesia have been charged in the murder, widely believed to have been orchestrated by North Korea.


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