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Trump: I Trust Kim on Otto Warmbier

President says North Korean leader not responsible for US student's death
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 28, 2019 7:30 AM CST
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un take a walk after their first meeting at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi hotel, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, in Hanoi.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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(Newser) – The summit between President Trump and Kim Jong Un may have ended abruptly, but there's at least one sensitive subject that seems to have been smoothed over: the treatment of Otto Warmbier. Trump says he doesn't hold the North Korean leader personally responsible for the University of Virginia student's death. "Some really bad things happened to Otto—some really really bad things," says Trump, per NBC News. "But [Kim] tells me that he didn't know about it and I will take him at his word." Warmbier was arrested on a trip to North Korea in 2016, and he died in 2017 after being returned to the US in a vegetative state.

"I really believe something really bad happened to him and I don't think the top leadership knew about it,” Trump told reporters. “I did speak about it and I don't believe that he would have allowed that to happen," he said of Kim. "It just wasn't to his advantage to allow that to happen.” Kim, he said, "felt badly" about the death. Politico sees this as a notable turnaround for Trump, who brought Warmbier's parents to his State of the Union address last year and said their son's story showed that "depraved" North Korea was "a menace that threatens our world." (Warmbier's parents won a huge judgment against the regime.)

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