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Warmbier death 'unimaginable' for former North Korea detainee

21 June 2017

Justin Weber told The Associated Press a press conference is expected later to provide more information. No ban is imminent, but deliberations gained new urgency after Warmbier's death, said the official, who requested anonymity to discuss internal diplomatic discussions.

A funeral will be held Thursday at Warmbier's alma mater, Wyoming High School in Ohio.

"All those that wish to join his family in celebrating his life are cordially invited", said the Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum.

Pyongyang returned Warmbier to the US on June 13 after reportedly being in a coma for a year.

Warmbier was arrested while visiting as a tourist and accused of trying to steal an item bearing a propaganda slogan, according to North Korean media.

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Warmbier visited North Korea in January 2016 on a sightseeing tour.

The death of American student Otto Warmbier following his comatose release from North Korea has further dimmed the prospect of US President Donald Trump meeting with the North's leader, the White House said Tuesday. He could not speak or move voluntarily and his doctors said he suffered extensive brain damage. His eyes opened and blinked but without any sign that he understood verbal commands or his surroundings. Unresponsive wakefulness is a medical term for persistent vegetative state.

Tensions between the United States and North Korea have been heightened by dozens of North Korean missile launches and two nuclear bomb tests since previous year in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions. Since his presidential campaign, Moon has stressed that dialogue, alongside sanctions and pressure, are imperative to achieve the complete dismantlement of Pyongyang's nuclear program, . leading some to believe that his North Korea policy is at odds with that of Mr. Trump.

On May 25, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) introduced the North Korea Travel Control Act that would ban any travel to the country unless authorized by the Secretary of the Treasury on an individual basis.

Richardson, who served under former President Bill Clinton, lobbied Pyongyang on behalf of the Warmbier family for their son's release.

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"This has the merits of protecting Americans from going to a place of increasing danger, but also drying up one source of our currency for North Korea", Schiff said in an interview.

President Trump offered his "deepest" condolences to the family and condemned the "brutality" of the North Korean regime Monday in comments at the start of a meeting with top tech CEOs. While almost all Americans who have been there have left without incident, visitors can be seized and face lengthy incarceration for what might seem like minor infractions.

Barring Americans from stepping foot in North Korea would mark the latest US step to isolate the furtive, nuclear-armed nation, and protect USA citizens who may be allured by the prospect of traveling there.

Kenneth Bae, the USA citizen detained by North Korea for two years, says he believes it is possible the late Otto Warmbier could have been tortured during his captivity in the communist country. About 17 United States citizens have been detained in the past 10 years, including the three Americans who remain imprisoned there.

The U.S. doesn't now prohibit its passports from being used to travel to any countries, even though financial restrictions limit to Cuba and elsewhere.

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