Ex­haust all diplo­matic av­enues, say ex­perts

New Straits Times - - News -

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

Times.

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.”

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