Trump laments Otto Warmbier wasn’t freed faster from North Korea

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President Trump on Friday said he hosted the family and friends of Otto Warmbier for a dinner at the White House last week and lamented that quicker action wasn’t taken to free the former North Korean prisoner.

Trump said at a press conference with the Australian prime minister that 25 people came to the White House for the dinner last Saturday “in Otto’s honor.”

{mosads}”It was very touching and really very beautiful,” he said. “We talked about Otto.”

Trump, who had just boasted of his track record in freeing American hostages, said others should have moved faster to get Warmbier back from North Korea

“People should have moved faster,” he said, without identifying those he held responsible.

“He was there for a long time. You’ve got to move fast. With hostages you have to move fast.”

Warmbier, a University of Virginia student, was held as a prisoner and tortured in North Korea after the country alleged he took down a piece of propaganda while there in December 2015. He died in 2017 at age 22 shortly after he was returned to the United States in a coma.

Trump sparked bipartisan backlash earlier this year when he told reporters he did not believe North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was involved in Warmbier’s treatment while he was held hostage.

“He tells me that he didn’t know about it and I will take him at his word,” Trump said at a news conference in February following a summit with Kim in Vietnam.

The president recounted the dinner with Warmbier’s friends and family during Friday’s press conference as he recognized his new national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, who previously served as the administration’s envoy for hostage negotiations.

He praised O’Brien’s tenure in that role, saying they had been “very successful” at bringing hostages home, before noting that he’d hosted the Warmbier family.

“Speed is a very important thing I find with hostages,” Trump said.

“In the case of Otto it was very late,” he added. “We got him home but he was in horrible condition.”

A spokesperson for the Warmbier family did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Updated at 1:14 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Kim Jong Un North Korea Otto Warmbier

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