KUALA LUMPUR – Nine Malaysian citizens barred from leaving North Korea have now been allowed to return to Malaysia, according to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
He said they took off from Pyongyang today at 7.45 pm Malaysian time and would land in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow at around 5 am.
“I would like to thank those in the Malaysian government involved in the negotiations, led by our Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” he said in a statement tonight.
Najib said he had deep personal concern about the matter and that Malaysia had worked intensively behind the scenes to achieve this successful outcome.
“Many challenges were overcome to ensure the return of our fellow Malaysians. The safety and security of our citizens will always be my first priority,” he said.
Following the development, the prime minister said Malaysia has now allowed North Korean citizens in Malaysia to leave the country.
“In addition, following the completion of the autopsy on the deceased and receipt of a letter from his family requesting the remains be returned to North Korea, the coroner has approved the release of the body,” he said.
Najib said the government believed strongly in the principles of justice and sovereignty.
“Our police investigation into this serious crime on Malaysian soil will continue. I have instructed for all possible measures to be taken to bring those responsible for this murder to justice,” he said.
Najib said as the Prime Minister, he was grateful that all Malaysians had united to overcome this crisis in the spirit of Negaraku.
“It shows what can be achieved for the nation if we work together as one,” he added.
The tension between Malaysia and North Korea arose in the wake of the murder of Kim Jong-nam, elder half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in Malaysia on Feb 13.
The diplomatic spat erupted after North Korean Ambassador to Malaysia Kang Chol made baseless allegations against Malaysia over the handling of the case, resulting in Malaysia declaring him persona non grata. The ambassador left Kuala Lumpur on March 6.
North Korea retaliated by expelling Malaysian Ambassador in Pyongyang.
On March 7, North Korea prohibited Malaysians in that country from leaving North Korea and Malaysia also took similar action against North Koreans in this country. – BERNAMA