Speed Reads

Trump-Kim Summit

Trump suggests he doesn't blame Kim Jong Un for Otto Warmbier's death

At a news conference in Hanoi on Thursday, President Trump said he did bring up the death of American college students Otto Warmbier with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during their unsuccessful summit in Vietnam. Warmbier, 22, was arrested while visiting North Korea on suspicion of stealing a propaganda poster, and he died in the U.S. in June 2017 of injuries sustained in a North Korean prison camp. Trump repeatedly said that he doesn't believe Kim knew about Warmbier's treatment. "I don't believe that he would have allowed that to happen," since Warmbier's death was not in Kim's interest, Trump said. "Those prisons are rough places."

Kim was well-versed on the case when Trump brought it up, "but he knew about it later" and "he felt badly about it," Trump said. "He tells me that he didn't know about it, and I take him at his word."

"Trump has taken credit for freeing American prisoners abroad and used Warmbier's death as a rallying cry against the North's human rights abuses before softening his rhetoric in advance of talks with Kim," The Associated Press notes.