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Published: Mon, June 19, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Amid diplomatic contact, North Korea frees American student

Amid diplomatic contact, North Korea frees American student

Otto Warmbier, the American college student detained in North Korea for more than 17 months, was returned Tuesday to his hometown of Cincinnati. With concern mounting over Warmbier's deteriorating condition since the State Department learned of it in early June, a delegation arrived in Pyongyang on June 12 that included a State Department representative and a medical team.

That moment to use this chip might have arrived, in Pyongyang's estimation, with the escalation of tensions between the US and North Korea over the latter's pursuit of nuclear weapons. At the meeting, North Korea agreed that Swedish diplomats could visit all four American detainees. Such meetings are unusual because the two governments do not have diplomatic relations.

While North Korea's move to free Warmbier could potentially provide an opening for talks on security issues, the prospects still appear bleak.

A White House official says the May meeting in Oslo was attended by Joseph Yun, the USA envoy to North Korea. But the nation still has three more Americans in its jails.

An American college student has arrived in OH after being released by North Korea, where he was serving a 15-year prison term with hard labor for alleged anti-state acts.

During his detention, Leigh said he was provided with one meal a day, and slept on a blanket on the floor.

Otto Warmbier, 22, has been in a coma since shortly after his arrest in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, his parents said Tuesday. USA officials did not confirm those details. Tillerson said the department would have no further comment on Warmbier and his condition, citing privacy concerns.

She says it's an "extremely sad" situation that student Otto Warmbier (WORM'-bir) is in a coma. "We want the world to know how we and our son have been brutalised and terrorised by the pariah regime in North Korea". "We'll be relieved to have him home and are looking forward to surrounding him with people who love him".

The State Department denied any connection between Warmbier's release and Rodman's visit, which President Donald Trump's administration said it did not authorise.

"It wasn't a situation where they asked", the official said of the US representatives.

Any visit to North Korea by a high-profile American is a political minefield.

As the Americans continued to push to see all four, North Korea's ambassador to the United Nations urgently requested a meeting with Yun in NY, according to Trump administration officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity about the secret arrangements.

Two women waiting outside the airport fence held signs: "WELCOME HOME OTTO" and "PRAYERS FOR OTTO", and said they were there to support his family.

He was given a sleeping pill after becoming ill after his trial a year ago and did not wake up, North Korea said.

Yun arrived in Pyongyang early Monday with two USA physicians. He was evacuated on Tuesday. A North Korean official told a US counterpart that Warmbier had contracted botulism and fell into the coma after taking a sleeping pill, CNN reports.

But Nauert is firm in stating "Dennis Rodman had nothing to do with the release of Mr. Warmbier".

PotCoin, which hopes to become the Bitcoin of the marijuana industry, is sponsoring the former National Basketball Association player's trip to North Korea to meet with the leader of the reclusive state, Kim Jong Un.

But Rodman added that he believed Trump is "pretty much happy with the fact that I'm over here trying to accomplish something that we both need".

However, before his arrival in Pyongyang, Rodman told reporters that pleading to free detained Americans is not the objective of his visit right now.

There was some speculation that he might plead the case for the American detainees, but en route to North Korea he told reporters "my objective is to actually see if I can keep bringing sports to North Korea".

In the past, North Korea has held out until senior USA officials or statesmen came to personally bail out detainees. A 2009 visit by former President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, secured the freedom of American journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling.

South Korea's Foreign Ministry says it believes a USA government official's recent visit to North Korea was purely a humanitarian act to secure the release of an American student.

Three weeks later, North Korea announced it was holding him for a "hostile act" against the state.

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