Two Malaysians were allowed to leave the DPRK on Thursday as nine others remain in the country. The fact that the two were allowed to leave is being seen as a step back from tension that has been escalating over the death of Kim Jong-nam in Malaysia.

The DPRK flag at the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on March 9, 2017.
The DPRK flag at the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on March 9, 2017. (TRT World and Agencies)

Two Malaysian UN employees on Thursday were allowed to leave North Korea, according to the World Food Programme (WFP), as Malaysia negotiates for a travel ban to be lifted on nine of its citizens still in the country.

The two Malaysian WFP employees reached Beijing, WFP spokeswoman Frances Kennedy said.

But the nine remaining at the embassy in Pyongyang have so far been unable to leave. They include three diplomats and six of their family members.

"The government of North Korea has given a guarantee of safety," Prime Minister Najib Razak said in a message on social network Twitter.

They are free to do their daily activities, but they cannot leave the country.

North Korea barred Malaysians from leaving the country on March 7 as tension escalated over the investigation of the murder on February 13 in Kuala Lumpur of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of DPRK leader Kim Jong-un.

Malaysia responded with a travel ban on North Koreans in the country, as police seek to question three men thought to be hiding in the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia says Kim Jong-nam was murdered at Kuala Lumpur International Airport by two women using VX nerve agent, a UN listed weapon of mass destruction.

TRT World spoke to journalist Zan Azlee from Malaysia for more on the story.

Diplomatic relations

Malaysia will not cut diplomatic ties with North Korea while pursuing its investigation of Kim's murder, the prime minister said on Thursday.

But Razak added that his government "will not relent from a firm approach" in dealings with North Korea.

South Korea's intelligence service has accused Pyongyang of ordering the hit. The DPRK has not acknowledged that the dead man is Kim Jong-nam, half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The UN has called for calm and urged them to settle their differences through "established diplomatic practice."

Source: TRTWorld and agencies