Student released by North Korea arrives in Ohio

She says Trump's "thoughts and prayers" are with the 22-year-old college student's family. And how does the Trump administration respond? North Korea repatriated a sick USA citizen it had held captive for 17 months, and Dennis Rodman arrived with fanfare in Pyongyang.

Rodman, who endorsed presidential candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 election campaign and appeared twice as a contestant on Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" TV show, said his latest visit was merely created to visit old friends and to "have a good time".

The release of the University of Virginia student was secured on the same day former basketball superstar Dennis Rodman, known for his flamboyant behavior, and personal connections both with Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, arrived in Pyongyang.

But on his final night in Pyongyang - New Year's Eve - he apparently went to a staff-only floor of his hotel and attempted to take down a large propaganda sign lauding the regime.

That was used as evidence in his hour-long trial, during which North Korea accused him of committing "hostile acts" against the regime at the urging of a purported member of a church in his home state of OH, a secretive university organization and the Central Intelligence Agency. He was convicted in March 2016 and sentenced to 10 years hard labor, about a week after Warmbier's conviction - both sentences were handed down shortly after the US had levied steeper sanctions against North Korea in response to missile testing. Sweden represents US diplomatic interests in North Korea.

"They were looking at ways to do that and this was one of the instruments they were looking at, and the foreign ministry thought it was advisable to formally extend an invitation", he told AFP.

The United States has accused Pyongyang of holding the detainees as political pawns for negotiations with Washington.

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President Trump has been soft-pedalling his public stance on China in the hope that Beijing will force Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear programme.

Early stories suggested there might be a connection between Rodman's arrival in Pyongyang Tuesday and North Korea's release of the comatose Otto Warmbier. There they told Yun about Warmbier's condition.

"I have high confidence that's not the case but Dennis does know Trump and he does know Kim", Pinkston said, adding that "it's not a pre-planned thing, the White House, State Department calling him, saying "Take this envelope, say this thing".

The statement from Leigh contradicts the more serious claim North Korea made in May.

But U.S. officials said Rodman's visit was purely coincidental. The North Koreans "were informed that the airplane would land, American and medical officials would get out". "No one", Fred Warmbier said.

But the important thing in the immediate future is Mr. Warmbier's health. If Warmbier does wake up from his coma, his recovery could consist of visual, auditory, and motor stimulation to improve his brain function.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declined to comment on Mr. Warmbier's condition "out of respect for the privacy" of the family. In addition to Warmbier, three other USA nationals remain in North Korean custody on various allegations of espionage.

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Warmbier said he accepted the offer because his family was "suffering from very severe financial difficulties". In a statement confirming Warmbier's homecoming, his parents said they were told their son had been comatose since March 2016, the month he was convicted.

They also said they are grateful he "will finally be with people who love him". USA officials did not confirm those details.

North Korean representatives at the United Nations did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Household debt rose by 10 trillion won (US$8.9 billion) last month, down from growth of 11.9 trillion won for the same month a year ago, according to the data by the Financial Services Commission.

To celebrate Kim's 30th birthday in 2014, Rodman brought a group of former National Basketball Association players to compete against a North Korean team.

The three are businessman Kim Dong Chul, arrested in April 2016, and two academics at the Western-funded, private Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, Tony Kim and Kim Hak-Song, arrested in April and May this year.

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