U.S. Agreed to Pay North Korea for Warmbier But Didn’t, Bolton Says
(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. signed a document pledging to pay North Korea $2 million for the medical care of American student Otto Warmbier in return for his release but didn’t follow through, National Security Adviser John Bolton said Sunday.
“That’s what I am told,” Bolton told correspondent Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” when asked whether the U.S. had signed the agreement, which would have occurred before Bolton joined the Trump administration in 2018. “No money was paid. That is clear.”
Warmbier, a University of Virginia student who was arrested for pulling down a sign in Pyongyang in January 2016, was sentenced to 15 years in prison. North Korea released Warmbier to the U.S. in 2017, at which point he was in a coma. He died days later.
The Washington Post reported last week that Pyongyang presented the U.S. with a $2 million medical bill before allowing Warmbier to be flown home. In a tweet Friday, President Donald Trump on Friday denied that the U.S. had paid that bill.
Bolton said that Trump remains open to a third meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un about that country’s nuclear weapons program. The pair’s previous summit, in Hanoi in February, ended with no agreement.
“He still looks for the possibility of a third summit,” Bolton said. He added that Trump wants a “big deal” with North Korea, rather than a series of smaller concessions on sanctions in return for incremental changes in North Korea’s weapons program.
In the interview, Bolton also dismissed as “completely ridiculous” a suggestion by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that Bolton and other U.S. officials, as well as Israel and Saudi Arabia, are seeking to “lure” Trump into a conflict with Iran.
Asked whether he supported regime change in Iran, Bolton declined to answer, saying instead that U.S. sanctions on the country were having an effect.
“We think the pressure campaign has had a significant impact,” Bolton said. “We’ll see what happens as the economic pressure continues to grow.”
In an earlier, pre-recorded interview on Fox, Zarif repeated an earlier reference calling Bolton and others “the B team.” Bolton responded by noting similarly dismissive comments from officials in other countries with which the U.S. is at odds.
“In the past few days, the North Koreans have also called me dim-sighted,” Bolton said. “The Cubans have said I’m a pathological liar. I’d say I’ve had a pretty good week.”
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