KUALA LUMPUR—Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Wednesday his country currently has no plan to cut diplomatic ties with North Korea.
The Malaysian government still needs a channel to talk and to negotiate with North Korea, Najib told reporters at the Parliament, adding the current priority is the safety of Malaysian citizens in North Korea.
“We received information that they are allowed to live their lives as usual. They are not confined, can get out, and do normal business. So there is no concern over their safety,” he said.
Najib said the travel ban on North Korean citizens in Malaysia will stay while the government is “carefully studying what is North Korea’s (demands) actually.”
Najib made the remarks after he chaired a National Security Council on Tuesday evening during which he was briefed about the situation.
In a strongly-worded statement, he also accused North Korea of taking Malaysian citizens hostages and called for their immediate release.
Malaysia and North Korea used to enjoy relatively cordial relations until the death of a North Korean man at the Kuala Lumpur airport and the ensuing investigation implicated several North Korean nationals, including a second secretary of the North Korean embassy in Malaysia and an employee from the North Korean national carrier Air Koryo.
Malaysian police said the North Korean man, with the passport name of “Kim Chol,” was poisoned by a lethal chemical weapon called VX nerve agent.
While North Korea demanded the return of the body, the Malaysian police insisted the next-of-kin come for DNA profiling.
Najib said police still need to find the cause of the death of “Kim Chol.”
“When a murder is committed, especially when a chemical weapon is used, we have to protect the interests of the nation,” he said.
Ties between Malaysia and North Korea strained after both sides issued a travel ban on each other’s citizens.