Malaysia bans travel to North Korea, soccer match postponed
Sep 30, 2017, 01:53
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.
As I pointed out earlier, this was a subject of discussion in bilateral ties during Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak's visit to Washington, D.C. earlier this month for his White House meeting with Trump (See: "The Real Test for US-Malaysia Relations in the Trump Era"), though Trump's statement praising Malaysia for ceasing to do all business with North Korea, officials say privately, belied a more complex reality.
"This decision is taken in view of the escalation of tensions in the Korean Peninsula and related developments arising from missile tests".
FAM general secretary Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin said they had informed AFC that the national team would be unable to travel to Pyongyang due to the directive from the Foreign Ministry.
The Malaysian authorities have however vowed to review the travel ban once things settle in North Korea and the situation returns to normal.
"All Malaysians are banned from travelling to North Korea until further notice".
According to AFC, the status of the Group B match would be decided by the competition committee as soon as possible.
Malaysia's travel ban represents just the latest move undertaken by the Southeast Asian state with respect to the escalating North Korea situation.
The national football team's 2019 Asian Cup qualifier against North Korea in Pyongyang on Oct 5 has been postponed.
The North Korea government had also given Malaysia safety assurances for the match, even granting the FAM's Johor Crown Prince president (TMJ) airspace for direct travel to Pyongyang, instead of via transit.
The focus is now on Hong Kong.
The Malaysians are bottom of Group B with one point, while North Korea are in second spot on two points, with both nations having played two games.
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Russian Federation might be trying to get involved in back-channel diplomacy between Pyongyang and Washington, the sources said. China echoed Russia's concerns, and said war on the peninsula would have "no winners".
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