Deputy minister: Malaysia’s pragmatic approach helped resolve N. Korea diplomatic crisis

Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican said Malaysia opted to undertake direct negotiations because it was confident that the crisis could be resolved amicably. — File pic
Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican said Malaysia opted to undertake direct negotiations because it was confident that the crisis could be resolved amicably. — File pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, April 18 — Malaysia’s pragmatic approach enabled the diplomatic crisis between Kuala Lumpur-Pyongyang recently to be resolved without the need for involvement of third parties, said Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican.

He said Malaysia opted to undertake direct negotiations because it was confident that the crisis could be resolved amicably.

“When the crisis erupted, we did not see the need to use third parties, but instead opted for direct negotiations. However, I wish to inform, because of  our pragmatic attitude, many countries including from Asean helped in the matter.

“Among the foreign missions which helped Malaysian citizens trapped in North Korea were those of  Indonesia, Pakistan and the European Union (EU).

“This is the advantage when we are pragmatic in diplomatic relations, we placed importance on ensuring the safety of Malaysians (in North Korea) and that they are brought home safely,” he told the Dewan Negara today.

He was replying to a supplementary question from Senator Tan Sri S. Nallakarupan who wanted to know why Malaysia did not use a middleman in its negotiations with North Korea to bring home nine Malaysians who were barred from leaving that country at the height of the diplomatic crisis.

The crisis erupted following  the murder of  Kim Jong-nam,  the elder half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 on Feb 13.

Jong-nam was waiting to board a flight to Macau when suddenly two women approached him and wiped his face with a liquid later identified as the lethal nerve agent VX.

He died while being brought to the Putrajaya Hospital, The  two women, an Indonesian and a Vietnamese, have since been charged with his murder.

The tensions saw both countries expelling each other’s ambassador and preventing the citizens from the other country from leaving.

However, all ended well with all the nine Malaysians in Pyongyang safely brought home on March 31. Jong-nam’s body was also repatriated to North Korea the same day, accompanied by three North Korean nationals who had been holed up at the North Korean embassy here.

To  Nallakarupan’s original question as why Malaysia did not break off diplomatic relations with North Korea,  Reezal Merican said the the government decided to continue diplomatic ties with Pyongyang in view of the longstanding relations which have lasted over four decades. — Bernama

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