M’SIAN WOMAN IN N.KOREA UNAWARE OF HOSTAGE SITUATION, WHILE EMBASSY STAFF ‘SAFE & SOUND’

KUALA LUMPUR – A Malaysian woman residing in Pyongyang was unaware about the temporary ban on Malaysians from leaving North Korea.

“We did not receive any news about the ban,” was her immediate response when contacted by Bernama here on Tuesday.

She declined to disclose her identity and said that she had no idea about the ban imposed by Pyongyang.

International news agencies have splashed the news about the ban, which would take effect until the current “tension” is resolved.

Earlier, Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican said 11 Malaysians in Pyongyang were safe.

North Korea’s Ambassador to Malaysia Kang Chol was declared persona non grata by the Malaysian Government Saturday and was given 48 hours to leave the country. He left Kuala Lumpur on Monday.

In a tit-for-tat move, Pyongyang  expelled Malaysian Ambassador to North Korea Mohamad Nizan Mohamad Monday and given him the same 48-hour ultimatum.

Pyongyang on Tuesday announced the temporary ban on Malaysians from leaving North Korea in which Kuala Lumpur reacted by temporarily prohibiting North Korean citizens including embassy staff from leaving Malaysia.

Kuala Lumpur expelled Kang Chol because of his insulting and unfounded remarks against Malaysia.

Kang Chol claimed that Kuala Lumpur was colluding with ‘hostile” nations against North Korea, questioned the police’s investigation into the murder probe of Kim Chol and claimed the investigation could not be trusted.

Kim Chol, widely reported to be Kim Jong-nam, the elder half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was murdered at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) on Feb 13.

It was reported that Jong-nam was waiting for his flight to Macau at KLIA2 when two women suddenly wiped his face with a liquid later identified as the VX nerve agent.

Jong-nam reportedly sought help at a customer service counter at the airport and was rushed to Putrajaya Hospital but died on the way.

EMBASSY STAFF ‘SAFE & SOUND’

MEANWHILE, according to The Star:

Malaysian diplomatic staff at the embassy in Pyongyang are safe and sound.

A Malaysian official confirmed this when contacted and said Wisma Putra is in contact with them and has advised them to continue with their work as usual.

“We have communicated with our staff and are in touch with them. They have been advised to lead their lives normally,” said the official on Tuesday.

It is understood there is a total of 11 Malaysians in North Korea, comprising three Wisma Putra staff and their six family members, as well as two other Malaysians working for the World Food Programme.

The North Koreans have informed the embassy of their decision banning all Malaysians from leaving the country.

Officials have described the latest move as further escalating the diplomatic row between the two countries over the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the exiled half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, on Feb 13.
Read more at http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/03/07/malaysian-embassy-staff-safe-and-sound-says-official/#O2gmVasQG8UQqG5O.99

– Bernama /ANN

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