PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, REUTERS) - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak chaired an emergency meeting of the country's National Security Council on Tuesday, in the wake of North Korea's decision to prevent Malaysians from leaving the country.
Datuk Seri Najib oversaw the meeting after returning from Jakarta, where he attended the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Summit which concluded on Tuesday.
There was no statement after the security council meeting, but the prime minister addressed Malaysians’ concerns on his official website. “I understand the feelings and concerns of the family and friends of Malaysians held in North Korea. We assure that we are doing everything we can to make sure they come back to the country safely,” he wrote.
Mr Najib earlier tweeted photos of him chairing the emergency meeting.
Among those who attended the meeting were Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Communication and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak, Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa and Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar.
Also present was Immigration director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali, NSC director-general Tan Sri Zulkifeli Mohd Zin, Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamad Apandi Ali and Armed Forces chief General Tan Sri Raja Mohamed Affandi Raja Mohamed Noor.
Earlier, Mr Najib issued a statement on Tuesday calling for North Korea to release all Malaysian citizens immediately to avoid any further escalation of the diplomatic row between the two countries.
"This abhorrent act, effectively holding our citizens hostage, is in total disregard of all international law and diplomatic norms," said Mr Najib.
"As a peace-loving nation, Malaysia is committed to maintaining friendly relations with all countries. However, protecting our citizens is my first priority, and we will not hesitate to take all measures necessary when they are threatened," he added.
In response to North Korea's decision, Mr Najib announced that all North Koreans working with the nation's embassy in Malaysia have been prevented from leaving the country until the safety and security of all Malaysians in North Korea have been assured.