MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The Trump administration is still considering how to respond to the death of 22-year-old Otto Warmbier.
The Ohio native died after falling into a coma last year while in a North Korean prison. The coroner’s office daily report Tuesday included Warmbier in its listings with cause of death termed “pending.”
White House officials said Otto Warmbier’s death reinforces the fact that North Korea is an outlaw regime that is out of control.
“It’s a total disgrace, what happened to Otto. It should never, ever be allowed to happen,” said President Donald Trump.
The University of Virginia student was accused of trying to take a propaganda poster while touring North Korea. He was detained and sentenced to 15 years hard labor.
Warmbier was believed to have sustained a catastrophic brain injury shortly after his conviction. He was in a coma when the North Koreans released him in June after serving 17 months in prison.
Warmbier’s family released a statement saying Otto “was at peace. He was home and we believe he could sense that.”
“I spoke with his family. His family is incredible…but he should have been brought home a long time ago,” said Trump.
The negotiations for Warmbier’s release are believed to be the first time the Trump administration has had direct talks with North Korea.
“The president worked really hard to do what he could to secure the release of him and it’s a shame what happened,” said White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
South Korea’s new president, Moon Jae-In, will visit the White House next week. He told CBS This Morning’s Norah O’Donnell that the U.S. needs to be open to negotiations in order to end North Korea’s nuclear program.
“I believe that dialogue is necessary. We were unable to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue through only the sanctions and pressure,” said Jae-In.
The White House said we’re further away from the two sides talking following Warmbier’s death.
Three other Americans – Kim Dong Chul, Tony Kim and Kim Hak Song – are still being held captive in North Korea.