President Donald Trump offered condolences Monday to the family Otto Warmbier, the U.S. student released from a North Korean prison last week after spending around 17 months in captivity for stealing a propaganda banner.
Trump blamed North Korea’s “brutal regime” for the student’s death and said the incident increases the “administration’s determination to prevent such tragedies from befalling innocent people at the hands of regimes that do not respect the rule of law or basic human decency.”
“Melania and I offer our deepest condolences to the family of Otto Warmbier on his untimely passing. There is nothing more tragic for a parent than to lose a child in the prime of life,” the president said in a statement issued shortly after Warmbier’s death.
“The United States once again condemns the brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim,” the statement read.
During a tech industry roundtable at the White House on Monday, Trump said “a lot of bad things happened” to Warmbier while he was serving his time in North Korea, Bloomberg reported.
“But at least we got him home to be with his parents where they were so happy to see him, even though he was in very tough condition. But he just passed away a little while ago. It is a brutal regime and we’ll be able to handle it,” Trump was quoted as saying in multiple reports.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement he received the news of the American student’s death with “deep sadness.”
The 22-year-old student’s death may escalate tensions between the two countries as the U.S. has been trying to block North Korea’s push to secure a nuclear-armed missile, capable of reaching North America. Trump has been focusing on pressurizing China, North Korea’s major ally and benefactor; however, the president has also warned that “all options” can be considered. The…