KUALA LUMPUR: Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman met family members of the nine Malaysians who were barred from leaving North Korea and said formal discussions with Pyongyang to resolve the issue would start soon.

In the hour-long meeting with the family members at the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations (IDFR) in Jalan Wisma Putra here on Saturday, Anifah said the safety and security of all embassy staff and their families are of his utmost concern.

Reporters were not allowed to interview the next of kin and Anifah urged the media to respect their privacy.

“Wisma Putra is in constant contact with them. I had a phone conversation with (Malaysia’s counsellor) Mohd Nor Azrin (Md Zain) just a moment ago,” Anifah told reporters later.

He said Wisma Putra “is in communication with the North Korea government through its embassy in Kuala Lumpur.”

Formal negotiations with the government to resolve the issue would be held very soon, he added.

Anifah said North Korea had also assured the Malaysian government that all nine Malaysians there are safe.

Besides Mohd Nor Azrin, the other Malaysians in North Korea are his wife Iza Karmila Ramli, 33, and their children Annur Zulaikha, Aynur Zhafirah and Ayscha Zinnirah.

Also there are the Malaysian ambassador’s personal assistant Noor Saaidah Jamaludin, administrative assistant Nirmala Malar Kodi Singaram along with with two others.

Although the Malaysians were not allowed to leave the country, they were reportedly assured of their safety and were free to go about their daily lives.

The diplomatic row between both countries escalated after the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 on Feb 13.

Last Tuesday, North Korea barred all Malaysians from leaving the reclusive country and hours later, Malaysia  announced a similar restriction, preventing all North Koreans from leaving the country.

Two other Malaysians who worked with the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) – Nyanaprakash Muniandy and  Stella Lim – were allowed to leave for Beijing, China.
Read more at http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/03/11/anifah-aman-firmal-discussions-of-release-of-malaysians-with-north-korea-to-start-soon/#zkI5mIFZQWecCluc.99

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