[ {"id":"5ec9779b-e5d4-588f-98a0-32f61f17a63e","type":"article","starttime":"1488092163","starttime_iso8601":"2017-02-26T00:56:03-06:00","lastupdated":"1488094425","priority":0,"sections":[{"world":"news/world"}],"flags":{"ap":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Iran begins navy drill off Strait of Hormuz as US newly wary","url":"http://qctimes.com/news/world/article_5ec9779b-e5d4-588f-98a0-32f61f17a63e.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/news/world/iran-begins-navy-drill-off-strait-of-hormuz-as-us/article_5ec9779b-e5d4-588f-98a0-32f61f17a63e.html","canonical":"http://www.apnewsarchive.com/2017/Iran-s-navy-has-begun-an-annual-drill-near-the-strategic-Strait-of-Hormuz-its-first-major-exercise-since-the-inauguration-of-U-S-President-Donald-Trump/id-3034612c1e314200921d64f4071c8949","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":0,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"prologue":"TEHRAN, Iran (AP) \u2014 Iran's navy has begun an annual drill near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, its first major exercise since the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["wire","general news","executive branch","united states presidential inauguration","inaugurations","government and politics","armed forces","military and defense","2017 united states presidential inauguration","navy"],"internalKeywords":["#lee"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":null,"revision":2,"commentID":"5ec9779b-e5d4-588f-98a0-32f61f17a63e","body":"

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) \u2014 Iran's navy has begun an annual drill near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, its first major exercise since the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Iranian state television quoted navy chief Adm. Habibollah Sayyari on Sunday as saying the maneuver will cover an area of 2 million square kilometers (772,000 square miles) in the Sea of Oman and the Indian Ocean near the strait.

Nearly a third of all oil traded by sea passes through the strait and it has been the scene of previous confrontations between the U.S. and Iran.

But the drill does not involve Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard, a paramilitary force the U.S. Navy often criticizes for harassing its vessels.

The U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

"}, {"id":"9d0f11cd-6658-566f-971d-d6d36eadf7c2","type":"article","starttime":"1488089506","starttime_iso8601":"2017-02-26T00:11:46-06:00","lastupdated":"1488091619","priority":0,"sections":[{"world":"news/world"}],"flags":{"ap":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Regulator: China needs to rein in risky stock behavior","url":"http://qctimes.com/news/world/article_9d0f11cd-6658-566f-971d-d6d36eadf7c2.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/news/world/regulator-china-needs-to-rein-in-risky-stock-behavior/article_9d0f11cd-6658-566f-971d-d6d36eadf7c2.html","canonical":"http://www.apnewsarchive.com/2017/A-Chinese-regulator-says-Beijing-needs-to-rein-in-risky-behavior-by-financial-industries-following-market-turmoil-in-2015-that-battered-investors/id-ceff23b892ee4ec297bd8de0d0297e17","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":6,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By JOE McDONALD\nAP Business Writer","prologue":"BEIJING (AP) \u2014 China needs to do more to stop risky behavior in its stock market, a regulator said Sunday, following a 2015 collapse in share prices and complaints investors are engaged in a dangerous new round of speculative buying.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["wire","business","general news","financial crisis","financial markets","economy","government regulations","government and politics","financial industry regulation","industry regulation","government business and finance","securities regulation","insurance industry","financial services"],"internalKeywords":["#lee"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":null,"images":[{"id":"04e7a68c-d553-5015-b234-16bcafc3e7b6","description":"China Securities Regulatory Commission Chairman Liu Shiyu is shown on the monitor screen of a television camera during a press briefing on the reform, stability and development of the Chinese capital market, at the State Council Information Office in Beijing, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. 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BEIJING (AP) \u2014 China needs to do more to stop risky behavior in its stock market, a regulator said Sunday, following a 2015 collapse in share prices and complaints investors are engaged in a dangerous new round of speculative buying.

Regulators need to stop \"blind expansion\" by financial firms, the deputy chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, Li Chao, said at a news conference.

People in financial industries have warned insurance companies and others are making dangerously aggressive investments in stocks and real estate. On Friday, the chairman of a life insurer was banned from the industry for violating limits on investing.

Regulators need to \"increase the intensity of supervision\" and \"seriously deal with illegal acts,\" said Li.

China's stock market is one of the world's biggest but prices are volatile and complaints of insider trading and other abuses are common. The markets are largely sealed off from global capital flows but Beijing is gradually easing barriers to foreign investors owning Chinese stocks.

In 2015, share prices surged and then collapsed, wiping trillions of dollars off stock value and battering small investors.

That was a \"hard lesson\" that regulators need to improve their ability to keep track of what brokers and investors are doing, Li said.

Regulators plan this year to \"fully implement compliance and risk control\" and \"standardize the investment banking business,\" he said.

Markets have stabilized since the crash, allowing companies to resume raising money in stock offerings, said the agency's chairman, Liu Shiyu. He said 248 companies raised 163 billion yuan ($24 billion) last year.

Liu was appointed in February 2016 after his predecessor was fired following the market plunge.

At the same time, said Li, regulators imposed more than 200 administrative measures last year against securities firms, fund managers and others who were found to be acting improperly.

On Friday, the country's insurance regulator said the chairman of Foresea Life Insurance Co., Yao Zhenhua, was banned from the industry for 10 years. The agency said Foresea, part of Yao's Baoneng conglomerate, risked too much of its assets on investments in stocks and real estate.

In December, another insurer, Evergrande Life, a unit of China Evergrande Group, was banned from the stock market. Regulators said it engaged in frequent speculative trading and ordered it to improve risk management.

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) \u2014 Was it a poorly executed assassination or did North Korea want to showcase its stockpile of banned chemical weapons?

The use of the highly toxic VX warfare agent to kill the estranged half brother of North Korea's leader has raised questions about Pyongyang's real motives in one of the strangest killings the world has seen.

Some say North Korea, in allegedly bringing a U.N.-classified weapon of mass destruction to kill a man at a busy international airport, intended to show the world what it can do with chemical weapons, which are easily forgotten amid concerns about the country's advancing nuclear missile technologies.

But other experts believe it's unlikely that North Korea wanted VX to be discovered. There's no reason for Pyongyang to risk taking another hit when it's already under heavy international sanctions over its nuclear program. It's also doubtful that the country would be suddenly willing to showcase its chemical weapons as a deterrent when it has never acknowledged their existence, the experts say.

For Pyongyang, killing Kim Jong Nam, who might have been seen as a potential threat to leader Kim Jong Un, would have been the clear priority that made any other consideration secondary, said Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea expert at Seoul's Dongguk University.

\"They probably picked the deadliest chemical at their disposal because they absolutely didn't want to fail at killing Kim Jong Nam,\" Koh said. \"The fallout of using VX at an international airport could turn out to be significant for the country, but I doubt that the North Koreans thoroughly thought this through.\"

North Korea has denied involvement in the Feb. 13 attack on Kim Jong Nam at Kuala Lumpur's airport, and also refused to confirm that it was Kim who died. Saying that one of its nationals died from a \"heart stroke,\" North Korea has strongly criticized the investigation by Malaysia, which has been one of its few legitimate diplomatic partners, and made repeated demands for Kim's body.

The overwhelming presumption that North Korea's government organized a hit job on Kim only strengthened after Malaysian police announced they found VX on his eyes and face. Analysts say it's almost certain that the highly powerful nerve agent, which scientists say is capable of killing 500 people through skin exposure with an amount weighing as much as just two pennies, would have been sourced from North Korea's state laboratories as its materials are tightly controlled internationally and hard to obtain.

South Korea's military believes North Korea has one of the world's largest stockpiles of chemical weapons with up to 5,000 tons that include sarin, mustard, tabun and hydrogen cyanide, in addition to V-type nerve agents.

If North Korea really did use VX to assassinate Kim, it would indicate a new level of sophistication in its handling of chemical weapons. The North Koreans probably needed to conduct many tests before figuring out the precise amount of VX that would kill Kim Jong Nam without harming the assailants or anyone else nearby in one of the world's busiest airports.

While some Western analysts have argued through the media that North Korea might have used Kim's assassination to draw attention to its chemical weapons, most South Korean experts doubt it.

North Korea, which has been pursuing nuclear weapons as an ultimate deterrent, has little to gain by highlighting its chemical weapons, which would only bring harsher punitive measures and put further pressure on the United States to relist the country as a state sponsor of terrorism, analysts say.

\"North Korea was already under immense pressure over its efforts to develop nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles, and also its human rights issues. Things will get even more complicated for Pyongyang if its chemical weapons issues are thrown into the mix,\" said Chang Yong Seok, an analyst at Seoul National University's Institute for Peace and Unification Studies.

Perhaps North Korea expected that its use of VX would go undetected because only a tiny amount would have been needed to kill Kim, experts say.

Or maybe using VX might have been a logical choice for North Korea because it relied on two lightly trained foreign women to do the job. North Korea would have been reluctant to directly use its own operatives when it had no plans to acknowledge its involvement. A less powerful chemical, including those needing injection devices or other equipment, would have increased the possibility of the women failing to kill Kim or would require larger dosses that might have put more lives at risk.

It's still unclear how the two women handled the VX without contaminating themselves and others, including travelers and medical workers who handled Kim's body.

Some analysts say that North Korea probably produced VX in the form of a binary agent, where two chemicals that aren't separately deadly become a nerve agent when mixed together.

But a South Korean military researcher, who didn't want to be named because he wasn't authorized to talk to reporters, has doubts. While it can be made as a binary agent, VX doesn't synthesize easily, so wiping a person's face separately with two of its component chemicals may not be a surefire way to kill him, said the researcher.

What's more likely is that the North Koreans who allegedly organized the assassination coated the women's hands with protective chemicals before putting VX on them, he said. Aside from the two suspects, police have also arrested a North Korean who worked at a Malaysian company and are seeking seven more North Koreans who are believed to have been involved in Kim's death, including an embassy official and an airline employee.

\"The security camera footage shows one of the women heading to the bathroom to wash her hands after attacking Kim. If she touched VX with her bare hands, she wouldn't have had the time to do even that,\" said the researcher.

___

Follow Kim Tong-hyung at www.twitter.com/KimTongHyung

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) \u2014 Women in elegant, long-flowing dresses saunter on the red carpet while men in tuxedos smile broadly and wave to hundreds of people who have lined up along Rio de Janeiro's Avenida Atlantica to have a look.

As the guests walk into the iconic Copacabana Palace Hotel, they are greeted with the rhythms of a Japanese drum ensemble and the sounds of ocean waves just across the street. Once inside, dozens of men and women in Japanese kimonos bow and say \"good night.\"

Welcome to Rio's Ball, the highest of the high-end Carnival parties in the world capital of the bash.

\"This event is for people who like to dress up, not just women but men too,\" said Andrea Natal, general director of the Copacabana Palace Hotel. \"It's for people who don't want to deal with dirty bathrooms and who just want a little bit of luxury.\"

In stark contrast to the hundreds of hard-charging street parties across Rio that are open to anyone, the \"Baile do Copa\" bills itself as a fairytale event where the country's elite \u2014 superbly dressed, sometimes in line with the ball's theme and other times simply as standard jet-setters \u2014 can see and be seen in a hotel known for both opulence and a lengthy tradition of welcoming world leaders and stars.

It's the kind of event where if you have to ask the price, you probably don't belong. For those who are curious: single tickets range from $800 to $1,900, several times more than the average monthly minimum salary in Latin America's most populous nation.

\"It's the dance of the wealthy in the most chic of hotels,\" said Haroldo Costa, a Carnival historian, adding that despite the high price tag, \"every year there is a fight to get tickets.\"

The theme of this year's event was \"Geishas,\" or Japanese artists who entertain with traditional music and dance. Picking that theme was a nod to the Japanese community in Brazil, the largest in the world outside of Japan.

Some 2 million Brazilians trace their ancestry back to Japan. Many arrived during the 20th century, and worked as poorly paid agricultural workers who labored on coffee plantations in southern Brazil.

Akemi Ono, a 48-year-old who was born in Rio to Japanese parents, said this year's theme would be a vehicle to teach Brazilians about Japanese traditions.

\"It's a form of cultural exchange that wouldn't be possible without events like this,\" said Ono, who attended the dance dressed in a kimono.

Like any good Brazilian party, it starts late and doesn't end until the sun comes up \u2014 on the beach, naturally. While it officially began at 10 p.m. Saturday, most of the 1,400 people began pouring in around midnight. It was not expected to end until breakfast was served in the morning.

\"It may be the first and last time, but I had to do this at least once in my life,\" said 67-year-old banker Cleusa Amaral.

In several halls of the hotel, pink and white fans, umbrellas and lanterns hung from the walls and ceiling. Waiters circulated with champagne, beer and any other spirits that guest could think of to ask for. Three halls were dedicated to huge spreads of food that included: myriad types of sushi rolls, shrimp, quinoa salads, grouper in Thai tangerine sauce and filet mignon.

John and Nancy Kennedy, Americans visiting Rio from Grand Rapids, Michigan, said they were impressed with a party that went \"all out.\"

\"I've never walked a red carpet before,\" said Nancy, laughing.

\"It's not exactly something we do a lot of in the Midwest,\" added John.

Back outside the hotel, while guests walked in, Aline Soza looked on in awe.

\"One year, I would really like to go,\" said Soza, a 35-year-old flight attendant. \"It's very expensive, but I think it would be worth it.\"

_____

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) \u2014 Rio de Janeiro's Carnival parade is world famous for the samba dancing, costumes that leave little to the imagination and the magnificent floats that roll down Avenida Marques de Sapucai, also known as the \"sambadrome.\" For the competitors, getting to the big show is months in the making.

Here are questions and answers about what goes into the big show that is Carnival:

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Competing schools of samba spend much of the year preparing for a 75-minute presentation that must include at least six floats to tell a story in an innovative way \u2014 while participants dance and sing, of course. The competitions begin on Sunday night and go into Tuesday morning.

The winners get a trophy, national bragging rights for a year and a party on Ash Wednesday. Samba schools that fail to place high are relegated to a second-tier league the following year.

Carnival parades are such a serious business in Rio that one university even has a graduation program for samba school managers.

HOW DID THE PARADES COME ABOUT?

In the second half of the 19th century, posh clubs of Rio organized Carnival parties. Little by little, these gatherings gave up the elegant ballrooms and took to the streets. The poor also had their parties far from the city's elite south zone. Costumes were often used to satirize politicians.

As the 20th century began, many of these celebrations included \"confetti wars\" in which groups would throw paper decorations in the air and at each other. Still, they were non-moving events that featured wind instruments and horns, not the drums and dancing of today.

The first samba school appeared in 1928 downtown Rio. The concept behind \"Deixa Falar\" (Let them Speak) was to parade to the sound of samba, and it was a hit. In 1932, journalist Mario Filho organized the first competition of samba schools. A tradition was born that would inspire cities across Brazil.

WHO MAKES UP THE SCHOOLS?

Each of the samba schools of Rio represents a specific region of the city, often a favela. However, fans of particular schools usually have fans all over Rio and even some nationally.

Up to 4,000 members can take part in the parade of each of the 12 top-flight samba schools in Rio. The heart of the samba school is the drums section, with at least 200 people. As a form of reverence, the oldest members bring up the rear of an ensemble.

Up to 80,000 people watch the parades at Rio's sambadrome on Sunday night, all Monday and into Tuesday morning. Millions more watch on television. Tourists are allowed to participate in samba schools, but their costumes usually cost more than those for locals.

HOW DOES JUDGING WORK?

Rio's samba school league picks 54 judges who spread out across the sambadrome. There are six judges for each of nine criteria, including drums section, costumes and samba dancing.

Hours before the first parade, a lottery chooses four judges for each category. They will have their scores counted. The other two judges will only be counted if one of the other four is absent during the parade. The group that gets the best scores wins.

Sometimes winners and runner-ups are separated by 0.1 points. There were also several occasions in which two or three have tied as winners.

WHO SHOULD YOU KEEP AN EYE ON?

The green- and rose-colored Mangueira group often draws the biggest crowds at the sambadrome and fans across Brazil. They have won the parade 19 times, including last year's.

Blue and white Portela is historically the biggest winner, with 21 titles. Both Portela and Mangueira are home to some of Brazil's most popular samba artists.

The red- and white-colored Salgueiro is seen as the most popular among celebrities. It has won the parade nine times and it often has the most popular samba songs that fans in the sambadrome sing along to.

WHO PAYS FOR IT?

Rio's city hall is investing 24 million Brazilian reals this year (about $8 million). The rest comes from sponsors, sambadrome ticket sales, samba school parties throughout the year that raise funds and a group of shady gambling businessmen called \"bicheiros.\"

\"Bicheiros\" run a widely popular but illegal gambling game called \"jogo do bicho,\" or \"animal game\" in Portuguese. They are sometimes linked to criminal organizations, and many sponsor local samba schools to improve their image.

WHAT WAS THIS YEAR'S CONTROVERSY?

After a day in silence, Rio's evangelical Mayor Marcelo Crivella delayed the traditionally opulent starting ceremony until 8:30 p.m. Friday only to skip it with the excuse that his wife was sick. Rio city hall eventually put out an email saying that Carnival was \"officially open.\"

Revelers had been waiting hours at the sambadrome for the traditional handing over of the city's key to \"Rei Momo,\" or the king of carnal delights. This has been always done with great fanfare in the past. But Crivella sent the head of Rio's tourism agency to do the honors. Rei Momo did not give interviews as usual and instead was quickly escorted out of the sambadrome by security guards.

It isn't clear whether Crivella, a retired Pentecostal bishop who took office on Jan. 1, will attend any of the five days of parades at the sambadrome. Rio's city council has already authorized him to travel abroad on the next few days, but he has not announced where he might go.

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SYDNEY (AP) \u2014 Benjamin Netanyahu has described his visit to Australia, a first for a serving Israeli prime minister, as \"wonderful.\"

Netanyahu and his wife Sara concluded their five-day trip to Sydney on Sunday by meeting with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

\"This has been a wonderful visit here. You people are amazing,\" Netanyahu told Bishop before talks behind closed doors.

Netanyahu joked with Bishop, who had recently arrived home from a trip to the United States and Britain, that the pair had \"shared more or less the same route.\"

Netanyahu and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last week agreed to deepen business and travel links between the two countries.

About 1,000 pro-Palestinian protesters at Sydney's Town Hall on Thursday night complained that Netanyahu was being treated like a celebrity in Australia when he should be tried for war crimes.

He was also accused by former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of frustrating negotiations with the U.S. to create a two-state solution to Israel's conflict with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu met political, business and Jewish community leaders during his stay. He was accompanied by a large security contingent as he traveled around Sydney.

Netanyahu had been to Australia twice before but never as prime minister.

\"I'd stay longer if I could,\" he told Bishop.

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MANILA, Philippines (AP) \u2014 Thousands of pro-democracy activists marked the anniversary of the 1986 revolt that ousted Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos with a warning against what they say are the incumbent president's dictatorial tendencies.

The activists gathered Saturday at the \"people power\" revolt shrine along the main highway in metropolitan Manila, where millions of Filipinos converged 31 years ago in a largely peaceful uprising to oust Marcos. A much larger rally in support of President Rodrigo Duterte and his crackdown on illegal drugs was held at Manila's Rizal Park, where police estimated the crowd to have surpassed more than 200,000. Many of the demonstrators arrived in buses and jeeps with local officials.

\"This is proof of the real 'people power,'\" Communications Secretary Andanar told the crowd.

The army-backed 1986 revolt ended a presidency marked by massive corruption, abuse of power and human rights violations.

Duterte's administration commemorated the anniversary austerely in the main military camp Friday near the \"people power\" shrine. The event was not attended by Duterte, who allowed Marcos to be buried in a heroes' cemetery in November, sparking an outcry from pro-democracy groups.

Reacting to criticism that the government rites reflected Duterte's cordial attitude toward the Marcoses, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the dictator \"is not that iconic in the mind of the president.\"

\"I think it is too much to say that he is the new Macoy,\" Abella said, using a shortened reference to Marcos.

The protesters condemned the thousands of killings of mostly poor drug suspects in a brutal crackdown Duterte ordered shortly after he took office in June and other policy changes, including his call for the re-imposition of the death penalty, preferably by public hanging.

Duterte, whose father served in Marcos' Cabinet, allowed the burial on grounds that there was no law barring his interment at the Heroes' Cemetery, where presidents, soldiers, statesmen and national artists are buried. It was a political risk in a country where democracy advocates still celebrate Marcos' ouster each year.

\"The pile of bodies in the Duterte government's war on drugs, arrests and killings of political activists, renewed push for death penalty, and militarization of communities affecting women and children is nothing but a U-turn to full-blown fascism,\" left-wing Rep. Emmi De Jesus said.

Duterte, who rose to the presidency by tapping on public exasperation with crime and corruption, has said it's in his power to place the country under martial rule to deal with contingencies. But he denied in other speeches that he would, creating confusion and unease.

Another group, called Block Marcos, warned that Duterte may already be starting to curtail civil liberties.

\"One common parallelism that we see between Duterte and Marcos is the silencing of dissent,\" said the group's spokesman, Milky Babilonia. \"Whenever you oppose them, you will be labeled as yellows ... as supporter of narco-politics and drugs,\" he said, referring to the color associated with opposition groups.

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) \u2014 Malaysia's health minister said Sunday autopsy results suggested a nerve agent caused \"very serious paralysis\" that killed the exiled half brother of North Korea's leader, as police completed a sweep of the budget terminal where he was poisoned and declared it safe of any toxin.

The investigation has unleashed a serious diplomatic fight between Malaysia and North Korea, a prime suspect in the Feb. 13 killing of Kim Jong Nam at Kuala Lumpur's airport. Friday's revelation by Malaysian police that the banned chemical weapon VX nerve agent was used to kill Kim raised the stakes significantly in a case that has broad geopolitical implications.

Health Minister Subramaniam Sathasivam said the state chemistry department's finding of the VX toxin confirmed the hospital's autopsy result that suggested a \"chemical agent caused very serious paralysis\" that led to death \"in a very short period of time.\" The VX agent can lead to death very quickly in high doses, he said.

The killing of Kim Jong Nam took place amid crowds of travelers at Kuala Lumpur's airport and appeared to be a well-planned hit. Kim died on the way to a hospital, within hours of the attack.

Tens of thousands of passengers have passed through the airport since the apparent assassination was carried out. No areas were cordoned off, and protective measures were not taken. Subramaniam said there have been no reports so far of anyone else being sickened by the toxin.

Late Saturday, however, police said they would begin a sweep of the budget terminal where Kim was attacked to check for traces of VX.

The sweep started around 2 a.m. Sunday involving officers from chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear teams, as well as the fire department's hazardous materials unit and the government's atomic energy board. Although VX is not radioactive, police said the radiological team and the atomic energy board were involved as a precaution.

Abdul Samah Mat, the police official leading the investigations, said a two-hour sweep by more than a dozen officers in protective gear detected no hazardous material. He said the budget terminal is \"free from any form of contamination of hazardous material\" and declared it a \"safe zone.\"

Earlier Saturday, police warned they would issue an arrest warrant for a North Korean diplomat if he refuses to cooperate with the investigation.

Experts say the nerve agent used to kill Kim was almost certainly produced in a sophisticated state weapons laboratory and is banned under an international treaty. But North Korea never signed the treaty, and it has spent decades developing a complex chemical weapons program.

Kim was not an obvious political threat to his estranged half brother, Kim Jong Un. But he may have been seen as a potential rival in North Korea's dynastic dictatorship, even though he had lived in exile for years. North Korea has denied any role in the attack.

Malaysia said earlier that Hyon Kwang Song, a second secretary at the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, was wanted for questioning. But authorities acknowledged at the time he has diplomatic immunity and they couldn't compel him to appear.

On Saturday, Malaysia's tone changed.

Abdul Samah, the police official, said authorities would give the diplomat reasonable time to come forward. \"And if he failed to turn up ... then we will go to the next step by getting a warrant of arrest from the court,\" he told reporters.

Lawyer Sankara Nair, however, noted that diplomats have immunity privileges even in criminal cases. \"Police can apply for a warrant, but it can easily be set aside by the embassy,\" he said.

Malaysia hasn't directly accused the North Korean government of being behind the attack, but officials have said four North Korean men provided two women with poison to carry it out.

The four men fled Malaysia on the same day as the killing, while the women \u2014 one from Indonesia and the other Vietnamese \u2014 were arrested.

Abdul Samah said that the Indonesian woman, Siti Aisyah, vomited in a taxi on the way from the airport after the attack but was fine now. He said that more tests were needed to determine if the two suspects were given antidotes so the nerve agent wouldn't kill them.

On Saturday, representatives from the Indonesian and Vietnamese embassies in Malaysia met with the two women.

Indonesia's deputy ambassador Andriano Erwin told reporters that Aisyah said she had been paid the equivalent of $90 for what she believed was a harmless prank. Aisyah, 25, said she had been introduced to people who looked like Japanese or Koreans who asked her to play a prank for a reality show, according to Erwin.

Asked if she knew what was on her hands at the time of the attack, Erwin said: \"She didn't tell us about that. She only said that it's a kind of oil, baby oil, something like that.\"

An odorless chemical with the consistency of motor oil, VX is an extremely powerful poison, with an amount no larger than a few grains of salt enough to kill. It can be inhaled, swallowed or absorbed through the skin. Then, in anywhere from a few seconds to a few hours, it can cause a range of symptoms, from blurred vision to a headache. Enough exposure leads to convulsions, paralysis, respiratory failure and death.

The Vietnamese woman, Doan Thi Huong, also thought she was taking part in a prank, Vietnam's foreign ministry said Saturday.

In grainy surveillance footage, the women appear to smear something onto Kim's face before walking away in separate directions. Malaysian police said the attackers knew what they were doing and had been trained to go immediately to the bathroom and clean their hands.

Experts say the women must have taken precautions so the nerve agent wouldn't kill them.

An antidote, atropine, can be injected after exposure and is carried by medics in war zones where weapons of mass destruction are suspected.

Also Saturday, police confirmed that a raid earlier in the week on a condominium on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur was part of the investigation. Abdul Samah said the condo was rented by the four North Korean suspects who had left the country. He said police were still testing a seized substance for traces of any chemicals.

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