China hopes KL, Pyongyang will re­solve dis­pute am­i­ca­bly

New Straits Times - - News -

SEPANG: China hopes that the ten­sions be­tween Malaysia and North Korea can be re­solved am­i­ca­bly.

The sen­ti­ment was con­veyed by Chi­nese am­bas­sador to Malaysia Dr Huang Huikang yes­ter­day.

“We wish Malaysia and North Korea can re­solve their prob­lems in a friendly man­ner. It is a very good wish,” he said, but de­clined to com­ment fur­ther.

Huang said this af­ter his visit to the Xi­a­men Univer­sity Malaysia Cam­pus, where he pre­sented the 2016 Chi­nese Am­bas­sador Schol­ar­ship award.

Re­la­tions be­tween Malaysia and North Korea soured re­cently in the af­ter­math of the Feb 13 as­sas­si­na­tion of Kim Jong-nam, the es­tranged and ex­iled half­brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

As in­ves­ti­ga­tors probed into the mur­der, North Korea’s then am­bas­sador to Malaysia, Kang Chol, made dis­parag­ing re­marks against the coun­try and Malaysian po­lice.

He had ques­tioned the in­tegrity of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and post­mortem ex­am­i­na­tion, and ac­cused Malaysia of col­lud­ing with South Korea and the United States.

Malaysia even­tu­ally de­clared him per­sona non grata and gave him 48 hours to leave the coun­try as he had re­fused to apol­o­gise for the re­marks.

Pyongyang re­tal­i­ated by ex­pelling the Malaysian am­bas­sador, then took it a step fur­ther by bar­ring Malaysians in North Korea from leaving the coun­try.

In re­sponse, Malaysia did the same for North Kore­ans re­sid­ing here.

Eleven Malaysians were known to have been in North Korea at the time — nine em­bassy staff and fam­ily mem­bers and two who were part of a United Na­tions World Food Pro­gramme (WFP) mis­sion there.

The two WFP work­ers, how­ever, have since been al­lowed to leave and are in Bei­jing.

Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak had, on Wed­nes­day, ruled out sev­er­ing ties with North Korea.

He sought in­stead to se­cure the re­lease of the Malaysians in Pyongyang.

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