Exhaust all diplomatic avenues, say experts
It is important for Malaysia to keep diplomatic channels with North Korea open, ensuring the safe return of those still in Pyongyang.
Universiti Malaysia Sabah Associate Professor in politics and international relations Dr Lai Yew Meng said it was important for Malaysia to remain rational and seek a resolution through dialogues and talks.
“We should hold dialogues or talks rather than adopt assertive measures that could escalate bilateral tension.
“Indeed, we would need to keep diplomatic channels open as well as exhaust all diplomatic avenues and measures in dealing with Pyongyang to secure the return of all nine Malaysians stranded in the North Korean capital.”
Lai said the recent turn of events should be seen as a “positive development”, with both North Korea and Malaysia indicating their willingness to hold direct talks to resolve the diplomatic impasse.
Yesterday, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman announced that the first official meeting between Putrajaya and Pyongyang would be held in a few days to iron out issues regarding the Malaysians barred from leaving North Korea.
The time and date, however, had yet to be confirmed.
Adjunct senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore Oh Ei Sun described the move as a step in the right direction.
However, he stressed that the priority of the Malaysian government should be freeing of the nine Malaysians.
“Everything else is secondary. The focus must be on freeing the nine people. The North Koreans are a sensitive lot. I think direct negotiations are what they prefer, whereas we are open to a number of peaceful means of resolution,” he told the New Sunday
On maintaining ties with North Korea, Oh, who is also the principal adviser at Pacific Research Centre of Malaysia, said: “There is, frankly, scarcely any benefit for us maintaining relations with a regime ostracised by most of world, and which did not hesitate to take our friendship for granted.”