Published: Thu, June 22, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

US Calls On China To Put More Pressure On North Korea


Referring specifically to the case of Otto Warmbier - a 22-year-old American college student who died Monday after being released from North Korean captivity in a vegetative state - Mattis said, "there's no way that we can look at a situation like this with any kind of understanding".

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the United States holds North Korea accountable for Warmbier's "unjust imprisonment" and urged Pyongyang to release three other Americans who are detained.

Warmbier was travelling in North Korea with a tour group, and was arrested at Pyongyang airport as he was about to leave. In the House, lawmakers lined up behind legislation ordering the Treasury Department to prohibit all financial transactions related to travel to North Korea by Americans, unless specifically authorized by a USA license.

Young Pioneer Tours, headquartered in Xi'an, China - the agency that arranged Warmbier's "budget" tour to North Korea - released a statement Tuesday saying it would no longer organize tours for USA citizens to North Korea.

Later yesterday, Trump cryptically tweeted that China had not been successful in pressuring North Korea, though it was unclear specifically what he was referring to.

Tensions between the United States and North Korea have shown no signs of abating, with Mr Trump condemning the country for frequently flexing its military muscles.

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He was sentenced in March 2016 to 15 years in prison with hard labor. John McCain said that Americans who are "stupid" enough to still want to visit North Korea should be required to sign a waiver absolving the USA government of any blame if they're harmed while there.

Trump from the Oval Office said what happened to Warmbier was a "total disgrace".

2am BST: The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, has said Otto Warmbier's death shows the inhumanity of the North Korean dictatorship.

Chinese state-run newspaper the Global Times, published by the official People's Daily, said Chinese officials must be wary that Warmbier's death might push Washington to put greater pressure on Beijing.

Warmbier's death came just days after he was released by the North Korean government and returned to the United States suffering from what US doctors described as extensive brain damage.

"He was the best guy I knew".

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"I think it's a awful mistake" not to perform an autopsy, said Dr. Cyril Wecht, a prominent forensic pathologist who was not involved in Warmbier's case.

Mr Warmbier's death appeared likely to increase pressure on Beijing ahead of a US-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue on Wednesday. "Considering these facts and this tragic outcome we will no longer be organizing tours for USA citizens to North Korea".

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China was not the "focus and the crux" of the issue on the Korean peninsula and it has stepped up efforts to promote peace talks.

"Our deepest sympathies are with the family and friends of Mr Warmbier at this time of their tragic loss".

Trump also defended his decision not to label China a currency manipulator - something he pledged during the campaign - due to their work on North Korea. "He was home and we believe he could sense that".

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