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US says Rodman did not help in NKorea release

Warmbier landed in Cincinnati Tuesday night. Thousands of US 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. "We have been told that he has been in that condition since March of 2016".

'We've been praying for him, his parents, and now the people transporting him back home, ' Miller said after Warmbier's release. According to Warmbier's parents, their son was medically evacuated from North Korea in a coma, which he has reportedly been in for over a year after falling ill to botulism and then being given a sleeping pill. "We'll be relieved to have him home and are looking forward to surrounding him with people who love him".

When asked if he would bring up the cases of Warmbier and three other Americans detained in North Korea, Rodman told reporters, "That's not my goal right now". Instead, he was apprehended on January 2, 2016 at the Pyongyang International Airport on charges of committing a "hostile act" against the state, as he was preparing to leave the country. The North Korean government, on the other hand, says that the poster was stolen "pursuant to the U.S. government's hostile policy toward (the North), in a bid to impair the unity of its people after entering it as a tourist". North Korea sentenced Warmbier to prison after he admitted trying to steal a propaganda banner during a trip there.

In April and May, North Korea detained two other Korean-Americans, both of them affiliated with the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, a private institution run by Korean-American Christians.

Rob Portman, who represents Warmbier's home state of Ohio.

Fred Warmbier said he does not know exactly what happened to his son during his detention. It said its special envoy on North Korean policy met with North Korean foreign ministry representatives in Norway last month.

However, on Wednesday, Rodman visited a women's basketball team and the birthplace of North Korea's founder Kim Il-sung.

If nothing else, the confluence of these two events highlights the enduring strangeness of North Korea as an actor on the global stage.

There was some speculation that he might plead the case for the American detainees, but en route to North Korea he told reporters "my goal is to actually see if I can keep bringing sports to North Korea".

Last week North Korean officials told Yun of Warmbier's medical condition. It wasn't immediately clear whether his release was connected to Rodman's visit.

The North has occasionally jailed U.S. citizens and released them only after visits by high-profile political figures, including former president Bill Clinton. All are Korean-American, and two were in the strictly secular country working with a Christian-backed university based in China, near the Korean border. The other is a businessman named Kim Dong Chul.

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) - Dennis Rodman's visit to North Korea has been uncharacteristically low-key so far. But the fact that he had been kept, comatose, in North Korea for more than a year could worsen the already tense relationship between Pyongyang and Washington.

Nearly immediately on taking office in January, Trump and his team - having been briefed by outgoing leader Barack Obama - declared the North's attempts to build, test and arm a nuclear-capable ballistic missile to be Washington's biggest threat. Experts say each launch gets the country closer to its stated goal of developing a nuclear-armed weapon capable of reaching the United States.

Washington has no trade links with North Korea, and has been considering sanctioning companies from third countries who deal with the secretive regime of Kim Jong-un in violation of United Nations resolutions.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert later said Rodman "had nothing to do with" Warmbier's release.

The US condemned the sentence at the time, accusing North Korea of attempting to use Warmbier as a political pawn amid heightened tensions between Washington and Pyongyang. The North Korean government told his parents that food poisoning was to blame.

He said that Beijing's pledges to clamp down on the North had been "uneven", but added: "They have taken steps, visible steps that we can confirm".

The BBC's Stephen Evans in Seoul says it remains to be seen if Mr Warmbier's illness is the direct result of brutality in prison.

"We wish him well, but we have issued travel warnings to Americans and suggested they not travel to North Korea for their own safety", U.S. Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon told reporters after discussing the North Korean missile threat and other issues with Japanese counterparts.



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