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Kim Jong Nam's identity confirmed by using child's DNA, official confirms

Police have been able to confirm the identity of Kim Jong Nam, who was killed last month at Kuala Lumpur's airport, using a DNA sample from one of his children, a Malaysian official said.

Deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi also said negotiations began this week to resolve a diplomatic stand-off over the death of Mr Kim, the estranged half-brother of North Korea's leader.

North Korea has rejected the autopsy finding.

Authorities said Mr Kim was killed on February 13 when two women smeared his face with the nerve agent VX at an airport terminal.

He was carrying a passport bearing the name Kim Chol. Police said last week they had confirmed he was Kim Jong Nam, but refused to say how.

Mr Zahid said on Wednesday that authorities obtained DNA from one of Mr Kim's children.

Officials said the body has been embalmed to better preserve it and that Mr Kim's relatives will be given two to three weeks to claim it.

Relations between Malaysia and North Korea have deteriorated sharply since Mr Kim's death, with each expelling the other's ambassador.

Last Tuesday, North Korea blocked all Malaysians from leaving the country until a "fair settlement" of the case is reached.

Malaysia then barred North Koreans from leaving its soil. The two countries have also scrapped visa-free travel for each other's citizens.

Four of the seven North Korean suspects being sought by Malaysia are believed to have left the country on the day Mr Kim was killed.

Police said the other three, including a North Korean diplomat and an employee of Air Koryo, North Korea's state airline, are believed to be in the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

Mr Zahid said formal talks are ongoing at the "secretary-general level" and that Malaysia is keeping an "open heart and open mind" in the negotiations.

Asked if Malaysia will exchange the Korean suspects believed to be hiding in the embassy for the Malaysians in Pyongyang, he said "we are looking at all possibilities".

There are nine Malaysians in North Korea - three embassy staff members and their family members. About 315 North Koreans are in Malaysia.

Mr Zahid also brushed off calls by North Korea for an international inquiry over the use of VX in Mr Kim's death, saying the North has shown that it does not respect decisions made by international bodies in reference to its nuclear programme.

Although Malaysia has never directly accused North Korea of being behind the attack, many speculate that it must have orchestrated it.

Experts say the VX nerve agent used to kill Mr Kim was almost certainly produced in a sophisticated state weapons laboratory, and North Korea is widely believed to possess large quantities of chemical weapons.

AP

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