KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Two women will be charged with murder in connection with the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half brother of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, Malaysian officials said on Tuesday.
Siti Aisyah, 25, of Indonesia, and Doan Thi Huong, 28, of Vietnam, could receive the death penalty. The police said the two women rubbed a deadly nerve agent on the face of Mr. Kim as he prepared to check in for a flight at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on the morning of Feb. 13.
Word of the charges came as North Korea began a diplomatic effort to repair the damage from the killing of Mr. Kim, sending delegations to Beijing and Kuala Lumpur in a rare outreach by the reclusive nation as it faced accusations that it carried out the brazen assassination.
The delegation to Beijing was led by Vice Foreign Minister Ri Gil-song, said the North’s official Korean Central News Agency, which did not provide further details. The Chinese Foreign Ministry confirmed that Mr. Ri was visiting at its invitation and would meet with China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi.
Mr. Ri is the most senior North Korean official to visit Beijing since a delegation met with President Xi Jinping of China in May. His trip came five days after the North lashed out at China in unusually bitter language for tightening sanctions by suspending all coal imports from North Korea for the rest of the year, depriving North Korea of one of its most important sources of hard currency.
The two women facing charges in Mr. Kim’s murder were arrested soon after the Feb. 13 attack and have said that they thought they were participating in a prank.
The police have also arrested a North Korean man, Ri Jong-chol,…