PM says yet to open channels with Pyongyang over trapped citizens

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak listed the Opposition pact’s past criticisms of the size of the civil service in Malaysia while also listing his administration’s initiatives for the civil servants. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 16 ― Malaysia has not initiated formal negotiations with North Korea over the latter's decision to bar Malaysians from leaving, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today.

The prime minister assured the public, however, that the Malaysians remaining in North Korea were in not in any danger.

“When the time comes we will formally negotiate with North Korea. In the meantime, we have found that our people in North Korea are safe and there is nothing to worry,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby today.

“That is for now, anything else I would inform,” he added.

North Korea has barred Malaysians from exiting the country, following a row with Putrajaya over the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother to Kim Jong-un, the former country's leader.

Malaysia responded with similar restrictions, but has begun deporting North Koreans here who overstayed the social passes or violated their working visas.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said on Saturday that negotiations with Pyongyang to secure the exit of Malaysians stuck in North Korea would take place in a matter of “days”.

Jong-nam was allegedly murdered using the VX nerve agent ― a chemical toxin classified as a weapon of mass destruction ― at the KLIA2 on February 13.