CHENNAI – Malaysia will not cut diplomatic ties with North Korea as the hostage crisis issue is deemed to have ended, said Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
But he said North Korea should never resort to unlawful action and go against international law and convention again.
The Prime Minister was making an apparent reference to the murder of Kim Jong-nam in Malaysia, widely believed to have been ordered by the rogue regime.
“From the time negotiations began with North Korea, I made it very clear to our negotiators on two issues – that our nine hostages must come back safely, and that the sovereignty of Malaysia cannot be questioned by anybody.
“Both conditions have been met and that’s the crux of the matter,” he told Malaysian journalists covering his visit to India.
Najib, who spoke to the released Malaysian hostages over the telephone from here yesterday morning, revealed that the North Korean side had at first made demands that could not be met by Malaysia.
He said they were even contacting the Malaysian side in the wee hours with their demands.
Declining to reveal them, Najib said Malaysia held firm to its stand that the two North Korean suspects holed up in the embassy – second secretary Hyon Kwang-song and Air Koryo employee Kim Uk-il – must be questioned and investigated before they could be released.
“We have achieved that objective. This is what is required by the law,” he said, confirming that the two North Koreans were allowed to leave Malaysia.
Asked whether he had contacted the top North Korean leadership over the crisis, Najib said he had only been in touch with the Malaysian hostages and the others involved.
As for the release of Jong-nam’s body back to North Korea, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar told reporters in Selangor yesterday that “we acted professionally according to the law and returned his remains to the next of kin”.
He confirmed the identities of the three North Koreans who left the country in the same plane carrying Jong-nam’s remains on Thursday evening.
They are Kwang-song, 44, Uk-il, 37, and Ri Ji-u, 30, also known as James.
He also confirmed that police had recorded their statements in the embassy before allowing them to leave the country.
“We wanted their help in the investigation because they were captured on CCTV in certain locations.
“They have clarified themselves and we are done with them. So, we allowed them to go,” he said, giving an assurance that their departure would not affect investigations into Jong-nam’s murder.
He said police would continue to press for the surrender of four North Korean suspects who left Malaysia on the day of the murder.
The four are Rhi Ji-hyon, 33, Hong Song-hac, 34, O Jong-gil, 55, and Ri Jae-nam, 57. They are believed to have returned to Pyongyang.