Eleven Malaysians stranded in North Korea safe for now, deputy minister says

BY KAMLES KUMAR


KUALA LUMPUR, March 7 — Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican confirmed today that 11 Malaysians are now stranded in North Korea after Pyongyang issued a no-fly order.

He said among them are two Malaysians with the UN Food Programme, three embassy staff and their six family members.

“All 11 of them are currently in a safe situation. Three of them embassy staff with their family, with two [from the] world food programme.

“There is no threat to their lives. Let us not come to the point yet,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby here.

Reezal added that Malaysia will be contacting its citizens stuck in North Korea soon.

He also said the Foreign Ministry will issue a statement later.

Earlier today, Putrajaya ordered an immediate ban on North  Koreans here from leaving the country after Pyongyang issued a similar directive against Malaysians there.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told reporters at Parliament that the Cabinet will meet this Friday and discuss if it is to sever all ties with North Korea.

Subsequently, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak summoned an emergency meeting of the National Security Council as the once-friendly ties between Malaysia and North Korea threatens to break over the murder of Jong-nam, who is the older half-brother to North Korea leader Kim Jong-un and the one-time heir to Kim Jong-il’s regime.

Jong-nam was found to have been killed with a lethal nerve toxin called VX that has been listed as a weapon of mass destruction by the UN on February 13, though Pyongyang insists he died from heart failure while at Terminal 2 of the Malaysian International Airport in Sepang.