WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump said Friday that the United States did not pay any money to North Korea, which had issued a $2 million bill for the hospice care of American Otto Warmbier, the comatose University of Virginia student sent home from Pyongyang in 2017.
"No money was paid to North Korea for Otto Warmbier, not two Million Dollars, not anything else," Trump said in a morning tweet in which he suggested he has taken a different approach to hostage negotiations than his predecessor.
The Post reported Thursday that North Korea presented an invoice for Warmbier’s care in an extraordinarily brazen act even for a regime known for its aggressive tactics.
The main U.S. envoy sent to retrieve Warmbier signed an agreement to pay the medical bill on instructions passed down from Trump, according to two people familiar with the situation. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
The bill went to the Treasury Department, where it remained - unpaid - throughout 2017, the people said.
Prior to Trump's tweet, the White House had declined to comment on whether the bill was paid or whether the issue came up during preparations for Trump's two summits with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
"We do not comment on hostage negotiations, which is why they have been so successful during this administration," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders wrote in an email.
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Fifield report from Beijing.