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He Signed $2M Warmbier Pledge, Thinks We Should Pay

Joseph Yun speaks to CNN
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 29, 2019 5:00 PM CDT
In this March 16, 2016, file photo, American student Otto Warmbier, center, is escorted at the Supreme Court in Pyongyang, North Korea.   (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin, File)

(Newser) – "No money was paid to North Korea for Otto Warmbier, not two Million Dollars, not anything else," President Trump insisted on Friday. That may be the case, but the former North Korea envoy tells CNN he did indeed sign an agreement to pay Pyongyang $2 million for Warmbier's hospital care, and he believes his authorization to do so came from Trump. Joseph Yun never interacted with the president. But as the State Department Special Representative for North Korea, he said he contacted his boss at the time—Rex Tillerson—and told him the North was insisting on the payment. Tillerson "got back to me very quickly thereafter to say yes, go ahead and sign."

Though he did not ask Tillerson, Yun's "understanding" was that Tillerson had gotten Trump's OK. National security adviser John Bolton wasn't part of the administration at the time but confirmed on Sunday that he was told a pledge was indeed signed. When asked by Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday whether the payment has ever been made, Bolton said, "Absolutely not, and that's the key point." Yun told CNN that he thought the US should honor the agreement and pay. (Read more Otto Warmbier stories.)

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