World

M'sian PM to North Korea: Don't hold our citizens 'hostage'

KL retaliates against 
Pyongyang's holding of Malaysians in North Korea

KUALA LUMPUR The Malaysian Prime Minister has called on North Korea to release all Malaysian citizens immediately to avoid any further escalation of the diplomatic row between the two countries.

Mr Najib Razak said he condemned in the strongest terms possible North Korea's decision to prevent Malaysian citizens from leaving the country, and he has summoned an emergency meeting of the National Security Council.

"This abhorrent act, effectively holding our citizens hostage, is in total disregard of all international law and diplomatic norms.

"As a peace-loving nation, Malaysia is committed to maintaining friendly relations with all countries.

"However, protecting our citizens is my first priority, and we will not hesitate to take all measures necessary when they are threatened," he said, in a statement yesterday.

"I have also instructed the Inspector-General of Police to prevent all North Korean citizens in Malaysia from leaving the country until we are assured of the safety and security of all Malaysians in North Korea.

"Our hope is for a swift resolution. I call upon the North Korean leadership to immediately allow our citizens to leave to avoid any further escalation."

Malaysian diplomatic staff at the embassy in Pyongyang are safe and sound.

A Malaysian official confirmed this and said Wisma Putra is in contact with them and has advised them to continue with their work as usual.

"We have communicated with our staff and are in touch with them today. They have been advised to lead their lives normally," said the official.

It is understood that there is a total of 11 Malaysians in North Korea, comprising three Wisma Putra staff and their six family members, as well as two other Malaysians working for the World Food Programme.

- THE STAR

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