Otto Warmbier’s parents blast ‘evil’ regime after Trump praises Kim
Washington: The parents of Otto Warmbier, an American student who died after a stint in a North Korean prison, blasted Kim Jong-un's "evil regime" on Friday after US President Donald Trump said he believed the leader's claims not to have known how their son was treated.
Warmbier's parents, who were guests of Trump's at the 2018 State of the Union, said they had held off commenting during this week's second summit between Trump and Kim, in Hanoi, which broke down on Thursday after the two sides failed to reach a deal for the reclusive communist nation to give up its nuclear weapons.
Fred and Cindy Warmbier said they blamed Kim for their son’s death.Credit:AP
It wasn't the first time Trump has faced criticism for his handling of foreign leaders. The White House faced bipartisan heat over its response to Saudi Arabia's killing of Saudi Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi last year and Trump's July meeting with Vladimir Putin where he accepted the Russian President's guarantee that Russia didn't meddle in US elections.
Prominent Republicans did not share Trump's acceptance of Kim's word, including US Senator Lindsey Graham, a close ally who said he didn't "buy it for a minute", and US Senator Rob Portman from Warmbier's home state of Ohio.
"We can't be naïve about what they did to Otto and about the brutal nature of the regime," Portman said in a Thursday speech on the Senate floor. "It's not just about Otto or other visitors, it's about how the people of North Korea are treated."
White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said on Friday that Trump blames North Korea but not Kim.
"The President agrees with the Warmbier family and holds North Korea responsible for Otto Warmbier's death," Conway told Fox News. "What he said was that Chairman Kim says, what he believes Chairman Kim to have said, was that he was not aware of what had happened to Otto Warmbier when it happened."
Warmbier, 22, died on June 19, 2017, in his home in Ohio shortly after he was flown home in a coma after being held by North Korea for 17 months.
The university student, who was on an educational tour of North Korea, was imprisoned in the reclusive nation after he stole a propaganda poster.
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