‘OUR PRI­OR­ITY IS SAFETY OF 11’

Not our in­ten­tion to pick a fight with North Korea, says Na­jib

New Straits Times - - News / Story Of The Day - ADRIAN LAI KUALA LUMPUR news@nst.com.my

PRIME Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak yes­ter­day re­it­er­ated that Malaysia’s im­me­di­ate pri­or­ity was to se­cure the safety of the 11 Malaysians in North Korea.

Na­jib, who em­pha­sised that Malaysia was not look­ing for a fight with North Korea, said Malaysia had its "own ways" to se­cure the re­lease.

“We have our ways. Our pri­or­ity is to en­sure the safety of our peo­ple there.”

He said should ne­go­ti­a­tions take place be­tween Malaysia and North Korea, they would be held be­hind closed doors.

“I can­not re­veal ev­ery­thing and I should not re­veal any­thing in the in­ter­est of the wel­fare of our cit­i­zens.

“Some­times, these things have to be done in se­crecy to achieve the de­sired re­sult.

“We are one of the few na­tions which are fair and friendly with North Korea.

“We didn’t pick a fight with them. It was never our in­ten­tion. When a mur­der is com­mit­ted and es­pe­cially if chem­i­cal weapons are used, we are duty-bound to pro­tect the in­ter­ests of our na­tion.”

Na­jib said di­plo­matic ties with North Korea would not be sev­ered as the gov­ern­ment needed a chan­nel to ne­go­ti­ate di­rectly with North Korea, and that the Malaysian em­bassy in Py­ongyang would not be shut down.

He said de­spite not be­ing al­lowed to fly home, the Malaysians there could move freely and con­duct their daily ac­tiv­i­ties as usual.

“There is no rea­son why we should worry about their safety,” he said at the Par­lia­ment lobby here yes­ter­day.

Na­jib, who chaired a Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil (NSC) meet­ing on Tues­day to dis­cuss the is­sue, said Malaysia would look into pos­si­ble de­mands by North Korea fol­low­ing its move to keep the Malaysians in the coun­try.

He said NSC wanted po­lice to con­tinue in­ves­ti­gat­ing the mur­der of Kim Jong-nam.

He ad­vised Malaysians not to visit North Korea.

On whether Malaysia would seek China’s help to re­solve the cri­sis, Na­jib de­clined to dis­close de­tails.

He said Malaysia would look at the lat­est de­vel­op­ments be­fore con­sid­er­ing to raise the is­sue at the United Na­tions.

We are one of the few na­tions which are fair and friendly with North Korea. We didn’t pick a fight with them. It was never our in­ten­tion.

“There are a few things we have to do first. There will be fol­low-up ac­tion, but this case is sen­si­tive and in­volves the se­cu­rity of Malaysians.”

Na­jib said rel­a­tives of Jongnam, who was as­sas­si­nated in klia2 on Feb 13, may be too scared to come for­ward to pro­vide DNA sam­ples.

“Maybe they are scared to come for­ward.”

Na­jib said the au­thor­i­ties were still wait­ing for the body to be iden­ti­fied as no one had come for­ward to pro­vide a DNA sam­ple, or to iden­tify the body. In his blog, Na­jib said the gov­ern­ment was iden­ti­fy­ing and analysing the real de­mands of the North Korean gov­ern­ment.

“This is a sen­si­tive is­sue. Hence, the gov­ern­ment (will) en­sure that ne­go­ti­a­tions and dis­cus­sions are done se­cretly.

“What I can re­veal at the mo­ment is that the gov­ern­ment is iden­ti­fy­ing and analysing the real de­mands of North Korea in im­pos­ing bans on Malaysia.

“In­syaal­lah, the con­flict will be re­solved and our cit­i­zens, who are be­ing held there, could re­turn safely.”

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