Najib: Malaysia will not cut diplomatic ties with N Korea

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Declining to reveal what the demands were, he said Malaysia held firm to its stand that the two North Korean suspects holed up in the embassy - second secretary Hyon Kwang-song and Air Koryo employee Kim Uk-il - must be questioned and investigated by police before they could be released.

Malaysian police investigating what US and South Korean officials say was an assassination carried out by North Korean agents at Kuala Lumpur's airport took statements from the three suspects before they were allowed to leave the country.

The three men had arrived in Pyongyang on Friday via Beijing along with the body of Kim Jong Nam, who was poisoned to death by the VX nerve agent at a Kuala Lumpur airport on February 13, in an audacious operation that triggered a diplomatic row between Malaysia and North Korea.

Pinkston said that while North Korea could view both the assassination and removing its stranded nationals from Malaysia's jurisdiction as a successful mission, the three men could still likely expect a rough reception at home.

Some of those who left were suspects in the murder of Nam. Their official came and identified the deceased as Kim Jong-nam.

Asked whether he had contacted the top North Korean leadership over the crisis, Najib said he had only been in touch with the Malaysian hostages and the others involved. North Korean authorities were quick to attack the Malaysian investigation and ignored their requests for an immediate release of the body.

He said that the trio had been interviewed by investigators and, "We have recorded their statements and we are satisfied with it".

"If you maintain a relationship with North Korea that includes the presence of many North Koreans in your country, you run certain risks".

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Pyongyang has refused to confirm the identity of the victim, who was carrying a North Korean passport bearing the name Kim Chol when he was killed.

"It is natural for them to want the body because it will continue to draw attention if it is anywhere else", he told AFP.

On March 1, two women, Siti Aisyah, 25, an Indonesian, and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, 29, were charged in the Sepang Magistrate's Court in relation to the killing.

Using a DNA sample, Malaysian police have established that the victim was Kim Jong Nam.

"It was a mixed feeling, as we did not know what to expect when we reached North Korea".

The pilot, Lieutenant-Colonel Hasrizan Kamis, had flown missions into unsafe countries such as Libya, but the Star reported him saying he only started breathing easy after leaving North Korean airspace.

At Friday's press conference, reporters pressed Khalid about which member or members of Kim's family had authorized, in a letter to the coroner, the body to be released, but he declined to say.