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Trump: No, the US didn't pay North Korea for Otto Warmbier's medical bills
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday said the United States did not pay any money to North Korea as it sought the release of Otto Warmbier, a day after a report said Trump had approved a $2 million bill from Pyongyang for the American student's care.
"No money was paid to North Korea for Otto Warmbier, not two Million Dollars, not anything else," Trump wrote in a tweet.
The Washington Post reported on Thursday that Trump had approved payment of a $2 million bill from Pyongyang to cover its care of the comatose college student, who was held in a North Korean prison for 17 months until June 2017.
The Treasury Department received the bill from North Korea and it remained unpaid through 2017, the Post reported. It was not clear whether the administration paid the invoice later.
Trump's tweet did not address whether any agreement had been made, and representatives for the White House and the State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Warmbier, a University of Virginia student from Ohio visiting North Korea as a tourist, was imprisoned in January 2016. He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for allegedly trying to steal an item with a propaganda slogan from his hotel, North Korean state media said.
Warmbier died six days after his release from North Korea. An Ohio coroner said Warmbier died from a lack of oxygen and blood to his brain. North Korea, which has dismissed claims that it tortured the student, blamed food poisoning and a sleeping pill.
Last December, a U.S. court ordered North Korea to pay $501 million in damages for the torture and death of Warmbier.
Fred and Cindy Warmbier follow the casket of their son, Otto Wambier, to the hearse after his funeral at Wyoming High School in Wyoming, Ohio, U.S. June 22, 2017 (Reuters/John Sommers II)
In his tweet on Friday morning, Trump defended his handling of hostage negotiations and slammed efforts by his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama.
He noted that the Obama administration had swapped five Taliban prisoners to secure the release of Bowe Bergdahl, a U.S. Army sergeant who has since been dishonorably discharged. Trump also accused Obama officials of paying ransom money in exchange for the return of four detained Americans in 2016, a charge the Obama administration has denied.
The Obama administration had said the payment of $400 million to Iran settled a longstanding Iranian claim at the Hague that coincided with four detained Americans' return but was not a ransom.
Obama had also defended the deal that led to Bergdahl's release and later changed the way the U.S. government handles cases in which Americans are detained by militant groups following a six-month review of the issue.
A spokeswoman for Obama's office had no immediate comment on Trump's tweet.
A group of vets are raising money to pay for a medal the Iraqi government awarded them, but never delivered
In June 2011 Iraq's defense minister announced that U.S. troops who had deployed to the country would receive the Iraq Commitment Medal in recognition of their service. Eight years later, millions of qualified veterans have yet to receive it.
The reason: The Iraqi government has so far failed to provide the medals to the Department of Defense for approval and distribution.
A small group of veterans hopes to change that.
For a cool $8.5 million, you could be the proud owner of a "fully functioning" F-16 A/B Fighting Falcon fighter jet that a South Florida company acquired from Jordan.
The combat aircraft, which can hit a top speed of 1,357 mph at 40,000 feet, isn't showroom new — it was built in 1980. But it still has a max range of 2,400 miles and an initial climb rate of 62,000 feet per minute and remains militarized, according to The Drive, an automotive website that also covers defense topics, WBDO News 96.5 reported Wednesday.
A doctor who treated accident victims has a radioactive isotope in his body. Russia says it came from his diet
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian authorities said on Friday that a doctor who treated those injured in a mysterious accident this month had the radioactive isotope Caesium-137 in his body, but said it was probably put there by his diet.
The deadly accident at a military site in northern Russia took place on Aug. 8 and caused a brief spurt of radiation. Russian President Vladimir Putin later said it occurred during testing of what he called promising new weapons systems.
Groundwater at the Air Force Academy is contaminated with the same toxic chemicals polluting a southern El Paso County aquifer, expanding a problem that has cost tens of millions of dollars to address in the Pikes Peak region.
Plans are underway to begin testing drinking water wells south of the academy in the Woodmen Valley area after unsafe levels of the chemicals were found at four locations on base, the academy said Thursday.