- The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images
- White House National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Sunday that the United States signed a document agreeing to pay North Korea $2 million for the care of Otto Warmbier but didn’t actually follow through with payment.
- Speaking to “Fox News Sunday,” Bolton confirmed that a Trump administration official signed a document agreeing to pay $2 million towards the medical care and release of Warmbier, who fell into a coma while in North Korean custody.
- Warmbier was returned to the US in June 2017 in a coma after serving one year of his 15-year prison sentence in North Korea for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster.
- He died shortly after at the age of 22.
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White House National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Sunday the United States signed a document agreeing to pay North Korea $2 million for the care of Otto Warmbier but didn’t actually follow through with the payment.
Warmbier, a University of Virginia student, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea in 2016 for stealing a propaganda poster. He was released to the US in June 2017 in a coma and died not long after at the age of 22.
Speaking to “Fox News Sunday“, Bolton confirmed that a Trump administration official signed a document agreeing to pay $2 million towards the medical care and release of Warmbier.
“This occurred before I came into the administration, but that’s my understanding, yes,” Bolton told host Chris Wallace, when asked if North Korea demanded the money from US officials at the time.
But Bolton denied that the money was ever paid out to North Korea.
“Did the US pay any money to North Korea, however it was disguised, after Warmbier was released?” Wallace asked.
“Absolutely not, and that’s the key point,” Bolton responded.
The Washington Post first reported on the $2 million medical bill last week, though Trump was quick to dismiss the report as “fake news.”
“We did not pay money for our great Otto,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday. “There was no money paid.”
Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have met face-to-face twice – the first time in Singapore in 2018 and again in Vietnam in February.
Trump previously credited Warmbier’s death for bringing the two leaders together.
“Otto Warmbier is a very special person and he will be for a long time in my life. His parents are good friends of mine. I think without Otto, this would not have happened,” Trump told reporters from Singapore in June 2018 on the one year anniversary of Warmbier’s death.
But relations between the US and North Korea appear to have soured as of late.
During the first face-to-face meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un held on Thursday, Kim said the US acted in “bad faith” at the Hanoi summit this year, which collapsed without an agreement on sanctions relief in exchange for North Korea giving up its nuclear program.
“Kim Jong Un said that the situation on the Korean Peninsula and the region is now at a standstill, and has reached a critical point where it may return to its original state, as the US took a unilateral attitude in bad faith at the recent second DPRK-US summit talks,” North Korean state media KCNA reported on Saturday. “Peace and security on the Korean peninsula will entirely depend on the US future attitude.”
Bolton told “Fox News Sunday” that Trump was ready to meet with Kim for a third summit in order to reach a deal.
“He still looks for the possibility of a third summit with Kim. He feels pretty strongly about it,” Bolton said.