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U.S. Should Pay North Korea Hospital Bill For Student Prisoner Who Died

Otto Frederick Warmbier (C), a University of Virginia student who was detained in North Korea since early January, is taken to North Korea’s top court in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this photo released by Kyodo March 16, 2016. Mandatory credit REUTERS/Kyodo/File Photo

The U.S. diplomat that was responsible for the release of American Otto Warmbier from North Korea, stated on Monday that Washington should honor its pledge to pay the $2 million to Pyongyang for the hospital care of the student.

The former diplomat, Joseph Yun, who was the U.S. special envoy for North Korea, confirmed that he had signed an agreement with the North Korean government for the payment of the money owed before Warmbier was flown out of Pyongyang in a coma on June 13, 2017.

Otto Frederick Warmbier, who was was sentenced to 15 years hard labor for trying to steal an item bearing a propaganda slogan from his hotel, died days after he returned home.

Although the agreement was signed, according to White House national security adviser, John Bolton, no payment was ever made to the North Koreans.

Yun is currently a global affairs analyst for CNN after retiring from the State Department last year and he said that he believed the United Stated should definitely honor the commitment that was made.

U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Joseph Yun arrives at a meeting with the media in Bangkok, Thailand December 15, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Yun said, “my view is, yes. If you’ve signed, if you promised another government from the U.S. government that you would make the payment, my view certainly is that we should go ahead and meet our end of the commitment.”

According to Yun as soon as North Korea made the demand, he contacted the secretary of state at the time, Rex Tillerson, who told him at that time to go head and sign the agreement. When asked if he believed that Tillerson had the approval of President Trump at the time, he replied, “that was my understanding. I never asked him. But that was my understanding.”

The Washington Post stated last Thursday that Trump approved the payment of the $2 million bill from Pyongyang to cover what they paid for the care of Warmbier, who was detained in North Korea for 17 months.

Six days after Warmbier was released from North Korea and returned to the United States, he died. A coroner from Ohio reported that Warmbier died from the lack of oxygen and blood to his brain. Claims of torture were dismissed by North Korea officials and blamed food poisoning and sleeping pills for the student’s death.