USA confirms high-level visit to N. Korea behind student's release

Former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman arrives at Sunan International Airport in Pyongyang North Korea

Former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman arrives at Sunan International Airport in Pyongyang North Korea

His current visit has already been roundly criticized by some for its timing, during high tensions between the US and North Korea over its weapons programs and recent missile launches. With concern mounting over Warmbier's deteriorating condition since the State Department learned of it in early June, a delegation arrived in Pyongyang on June 12 that included a State Department representative and a medical team.

They were quoted by the Washington Post as saying they had been told Otto had contracted botulism, a rare illness that causes paralysis, soon after his trial in March 2016. "At the moment, we're just treating this like he's been in an accident". But one thing's for sure: It'll take more than Dennis Rodman to get the job done. He fell into a coma with sleeping pills. He has never woken up since.

"We have no comment on Mr Warmbier's condition, out of respect for him and his family", Tillerson told United States senators at the start of a hearing into his budget.

Tillerson said the State Department is continuing "to have discussions" with North Korea about the release of other three American citizens imprisoned there.

While the release of the US citizen might send a signal about eased tensions between Pyongyang and Washington, the DPRK Monday also expressed nostalgia for a period of relaxed relations with South Korea from 2000 to 2007, by marking the signing of the historic 2000 North-South Joint Declaration on inter-Korean relations. President Trump then promptly put into motion the process enabling Warmbier's safe return to his family in Ohio.

It was not immediately clear if Rodman's visit to North Korea was purely coincidental with Warmbier's release.

Donald Trump's spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said securing Mr Warmbier's release "was a big priority" for the president, who worked "very closely" with the.

Tillerson's announcement comes as former National Basketball Association player Dennis Rodman is paying a return visit to North Korea. The 22-year-old University of Virginia student was finally free, after being jailed by the North's repressive regime for 17 months.

Warmbier was serving a 15-year prison term with hard labor in North Korea for alleged anti-state acts.

Pyongyang accused him of supporting the USA hostile policy against the DPRK and undermining the unity of the DPRK people.

North Korea has a track record of detaining South Korean and American travelers, and using them as diplomatic leverage in negotiations with the detainees' home countries.

Otto Warmbier was sentenced to hard labour for attempting to steal a propaganda sign while on a visit. Meshach Kanyion, pastor of the church in Wyoming, declined to comment Wednesday.

Warmbier was detained at the airport as he was leaving the country with a tour group in January 2016. Warmbier had been staying at the Yanggakdo International Hotel. The North Koreans agreed and he was flown out on Tuesday. He'd been in custody since January 2016 and was sentenced in March 2016 in a one-hour trial. He had also taught at the university.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert later said Rodman "had nothing to do with" Warmbier's release. "Over the last 18 months, they have had to endure more than any family should have to bear".

Worldwide organizations condemned Warmbier's sentence, which they saw as unnecessary and lengthy. Thousands of USA troops are based in South Korea, and the Demilitarized Zone between the North and South is one of the most heavily fortified borders in the world.

An American college student has arrived in OH after being released by North Korea, where he was serving a 15-year prison term with hard labor for alleged anti-state acts.

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