Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak speaks during a public event in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, March 8, 2017. (Xinhua/Chong Voon Chung)
KUALA LUMPUR, March 8 (Xinhua) -- Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Wednesday his country currently has no plan to cut diplomatic ties with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
The Malaysian government still needs a channel to talk and to negotiate with the DPRK, Najib told reporters at the Parliament, adding the current priority is the safety of Malaysian citizens in the DPRK.
"We received information that they are allowed to live their lives as usual. They are not confined, can get out, and do normal business. So there is no concern over their safety," he said.
Najib said the travel ban on the DPRK citizens in Malaysia will stay while the government is "carefully studying what is the DPRK's (demands) actually."
Najib made the remarks after he chaired a National Security Council on Tuesday evening during which he was briefed about the situation.
In a strongly-worded statement, he also accused the DPRK of taking Malaysian citizens hostages and called for their immediate release.
Malaysia and the DPRK used to enjoy relatively cordial relations until the death of a DPRK man at the Kuala Lumpur airport and the ensuing investigation implicated several DPRK nationals, including a second secretary of the DPRK embassy in Malaysia and an employee from the DPRK national carrier Air Koryo.
Malaysian police said the DPRK man, with the passport name of "Kim Chol," was poisoned by a lethal chemical weapon called VX nerve agent.
While the DPRK demanded the return of the body, the Malaysian police insisted the next-of-kin come for DNA profiling.
Najib said police still need to find the cause of the death of "Kim Chol."
"When a murder is committed, especially when a chemical weapon is used, we have to protect the interests of the nation," he said.
Ties between Malaysia and the DPRK strained after both sides issued a travel ban on each other's citizens.