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Malaysians in N.Korea safe, no plans to cut diplomatic ties

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KUALA LUMPUR, March 8 2017 : The security situation of Malaysian citizens in North Korea is not worrying, says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

He said they were allowed to go about their daily activities as usual, were not held in confinement, and could go out as always.

“So, there is no worry about their safety,” the prime minister said when met by reporters at the Parliament lobby after the question-and-answer session in the Dewan Rakyat today.

He said Malaysia was also now watching out for what the North Korean government really wanted in the issue of the murder of their own citizen at klia2 on Feb 13.

“Meanwhile, we stick to our decision of not allowing the North Koreans who are here from leaving Malaysia and we want our police to investigate the reason and those responsible for the murder of Kim Chol.

“Besides that, we wait for confirmation of his identity as the DNA analysis has not been completed. It’s difficult to get the DNA analysis done as no one (family member) has come forward (to provide blood samples), perhaps out of fear,” he said.

Kim Chol has been widely reported by the media as Kim Jong-nam, the estranged elder half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

Najib said Malaysia was doing whatever required in addressing the issue involving that country.

“We will watch the developments as I’ve asked for certain things to be carried out, but I cannot disclose them here. What is important is ensuring the safety of our citizens there (in North Korea),” added Najib who declined to comment when asked whether the Malaysian government itself had contacted Kim Jong-un.

“Whatever it is, we have follow-up action but because this is a sensitive matter, our priority is the safety of Malaysians there. So, if there is discussion, it cannot be done through the media,” he added.

At the moment, there are 11 Malaysians still in North Korea, comprising three officers and staff of the Malaysian embassy there and six family members, as well as two officers attached to the World Food Programme of the United Nations.

Meanwhile, the prime minister asserted that diplomatic ties with North Korea were still on and Malaysia was not shutting down its embassy in Pyongyang as it provided a channel to talk and to negotiate with North Korea.

However, Malaysians are advised not to travel to North Korea for the time being.

Najib said Malaysia did feel a bit puzzled with the way North Korea had reacted since both countries had enjoyed good ties before.

“Yes, there are very few countries that have been very fair to North Korea and we are quite friendly towards them. We did not pick a quarrel with them, it was never our intention.

“But when a crime has been committed, especially when a chemical weapon has been used in Malaysia, we are duty-bound to protect the interest of all Malaysians,” he said.

On the departure ban imposed on North Koreans, Najib said Malaysia had to take such a measure as a way to negotiate with Pyongyang. – Bernama

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