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U.S. denies paying North Korea for student’s medical bills

by Onize Ohikere
Posted 4/26/19, 11:37 am

President Donald Trump on Friday said the United States did not pay North Korea for the release of American Otto Warmbier despite reports the communist country demanded $2 million in medical costs before releasing the 22-year-old student in 2017. Warmbier received a 15-year sentence with hard labor in March 2016 after North Korea accused him of stealing a propaganda poster from a Pyongyang hotel. A U.S. envoy sent to retrieve him signed an agreement to pay his medical bill following instructions from Trump, The Washington Post reported Thursday. The Post said the bill remained unpaid in the Treasury Department throughout 2017. The White House did not confirm the Post report other than to say no money changed hands. “No money was paid to North Korea for Otto Warmbier, not two Million Dollars, not anything else,” Trump tweeted Friday.

Warmbier died a week after returning to the United States in a coma. Doctors who treated him said he suffered a severe neurological injury from an unknown cause.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un returned to his country on Friday after his first summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. During the talks, Kim said the fate of its relationship with the West will “entirely depend on the U.S. future attitude.” Talks between North Korea and the United States stalled in February at a meeting between Trump and Kim in Hanoi, Vietnam.

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Onize Ohikere

Onize is WORLD's Africa reporter. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and earned a journalism degree from Minnesota State University-Moorhead. Onize resides in Abuja, Nigeria. Follow her on Twitter @onize_ohiks.

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