Trump approved payment of $2 million North Korea bill for care of Warmbier: report




  • In US
  • 2019-04-25 17:54:07Z
  • By Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump approved payment of a $2 million bill presented by North Korea to cover its care of comatose American Otto Warmbier, a college student who died shortly after being returned home from 17 months in a North Korean prison, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.

The Post said an invoice was handed to State Department envoy Joseph Yun hours before Warmbier, 22, was flown out of Pyongyang in a coma on June 13, 2017. Warmbier died six days later.

The U.S. envoy, who was sent to retrieve Warmbier, signed an agreement to pay the medical bill on instructions passed down from Trump, the Post reported, citing two unidentified people familiar with the situation.

"We do not comment on hostage negotiations, which is why they have been so successful during this administration," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told Reuters.

Yun also told Reuters he could not comment on diplomatic exchanges. But in an interview with CNN on Thursday, he said he was given broad orders to secure Warmbier's release and that he understood the instructions came directly from Trump.

"Yes, my orders were completely: do whatever you can to get Otto back," he told CNN, adding that he worked closely with then U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Yun added that it was his understanding that in previous releases of U.S. prisoners, money had been exchanged and was justified as "hospital costs," but he gave no further details.

Representatives for the U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The bill was sent to the Treasury Department and remained unpaid through 2017, the Post reported. It was not known if the administration later paid the bill.

Warmbier, a University of Virginia student visiting North Korea as a tourist, was imprisoned there for 17 months starting in January 2016. North Korea state media said he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for trying to steal an item bearing a propaganda slogan from his hotel.

Reached by phone, Fred Warmbier, Otto Warmbier's father, declined to comment on the report or to confirm the Post's account that he had said the hospital bill sounded like ransom.

Warmbier's parents issued a sharp statement in March after Trump said he believed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's claim not to have known how their son was treated. [nL1N20O0SK][nRTV9Rfhxg]

The U.S. president also praised Kim's leadership after their second summit collapsed in February in Hanoi when the two sides failed to reach a deal for Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons.

"Kim and his evil regime are responsible for the death of our son Otto," Fred and Cindy Warmbier said in March. "Kim and his evil regime are responsible for unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity. No excuses or lavish praise can change that."

Trump said later he held North Korea responsible for the young man's death.

A U.S. court in December ordered North Korea to pay $501 million in damages for the torture and death of Warmbier. [nL1N1YT0N1]

An Ohio coroner said Warmbier died from a lack of oxygen and blood to the brain. Pyongyang blamed botulism and ingestion of a sleeping pill and dismissed torture claims.


(Reporting by Jeff Mason, Doina Chiacu and David Brunnstrom; additional reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and James Dalgleish)

COMMENTS

More Related News

Trump: Any Jew voting Democratic is uninformed or disloyal
Trump: Any Jew voting Democratic is uninformed or disloyal
  • World
  • 2019-08-21 12:42:38Z

Trump's claim triggered a quick uproar from critics who said the Republican president was trading in anti-Semitic stereotypes. It came amid Trump's ongoing feud with Democratic congresswomen Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, both Muslim. Trump has closely aligned himself with Israel, including its conservative prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while the Muslim lawmakers have been outspoken critics of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians.

Donald Trump cancels trip to Denmark after prime minister dismisses his offer to buy Greenland as
Donald Trump cancels trip to Denmark after prime minister dismisses his offer to buy Greenland as 'absurd'

President Donald Trump abruptly canceled a trip to Denmark on Tuesday after that country's prime minister dismissed his offer to buy Greenland as "absurd."

SUPREME COURT NOTEBOOK: Gender pronouns part of LGBT fight
SUPREME COURT NOTEBOOK: Gender pronouns part of LGBT fight

White House Dismisses Payroll Tax Cuts as Slowdown Prevention
White House Dismisses Payroll Tax Cuts as Slowdown Prevention

(Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. The White House dismissed the idea that the administration is looking to cut payroll taxes as a way to bolster consumer spending, as economic indicators increasingly point to a potential

Economists survey: 34% expect a US recession in 2021
Economists survey: 34% expect a US recession in 2021
  • US
  • 2019-08-19 09:43:51Z

A number of U.S. business economists appear sufficiently concerned about the risks of some of President Donald Trump's economic policies that they expect a recession in the U.S. by the end of 2021. Thirty-four percent of economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics, in a report being released Monday, said they believe a slowing economy will tip into recession in 2021. Only 2% of those polled expect a recession to begin this year, while 38% predict that it will occur in 2020.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: US

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.