President Donald Trump said that his historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “would not have happened” without Otto Warmbier, the American college student who died after being released from a North Korean prison last year.

Trump's comments came after he met with Kim in Singapore on Tuesday, a first for a U.S. president. He brought up Warmbier in response to questions criticizing his praise for Kim given North Korea's history of human rights violations.

“Otto Warmbier is a very special person and he will be for a long time in my life. His parents are good friends of mine. I think without Otto, this would not have happened,” Trump told reporters at a news conference in Singapore following the summit, according to NBC News.

The president went on to credit Warmbier's death with bringing attention to the dire situation in North Korea, prompting world leaders to improve relations with the isolated country.

“Something happened from that day, was a terrible thing. It was brutal,” he explained. “But a lot of people started to focus on what was going on, including North Korea. I really think that Otto is someone who did not die in vain. He had a lot to do with us today.”

Fred and Cindy Warmbier, Otto Warmbier's parents, released a statement on Tuesday thanking Trump for remembering their son at the summit, which was held on the one-year anniversary of his release.

“We appreciate President Trump's recent comments about our family. We are proud of Otto and miss him. Hopefully, something positive can come from this,” they said in the statement.

Warmbier, a 22-year-old student at the University of Virginia from Ohio, was arrested and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor after he took a poster from the Pyongyang hotel where he was staying while on a tourist trip to North Korea.

North Korean officials released Warmbier on “humanitarian grounds,” but he arrived to the U.S. in a coma. He died soon after on June 19, 2017.

Doctors have been unable to determine the exact cause of Warmbier's death, but his parents, as well as Trump, have claimed that he was tortured by the Kim regime before his release.

View Comments(43 comments)
@Otisamsonite(16 likes)Otto was obviously tortured. The North Koreans have no qualms about hurting people. They were quite the hosts to our, and the U. N. prisoners of the 'conflict.' A survivor of prison camp horror who was a friend of my dad's during the 'forgotten war' told several awful stories about what was perpetrated. He was fastened to an immovable chair, his feet were placed in a bucket of water, wires attached to his legs and testicles, and a crank handle telephone was added to shock him repeatedly. 'Rusty' was beaten, dehydrated, and almost starved. During one flogging, which also included small razors cuts, the wounds were filled with salt. He said as he thought he would die during one particular session, but a Chinese Colonel happened to arrive who liked Americans because he had fought alongside us against the Japanese during WWII. The Chinaman put a stop to it or my dad would never have seen Rusty again. The abuse wasn't completely over, however. The NK pigs would feed the prisoners corn, which is really not wholly digestible. They made the POWs clean the latrines and pick out corn kernels for them to eat again. Sometimes they were forced to drink urine. There is more, but I think I've relayed enough. I despise the DPRK but pray that their nuclear program grinds to a halt becuase these are the 'people' we are dealing with.
@Wedge1(12 likes)Well, Trump's successful summit with Noko & Kim Jong-Un cannot be denied by anybody, including all of the trolls on this site. While many of the details are still being worked on by Pompeo and Bolton, the framework is solid. In honor of Otto, the final document should be hereafter named "The Warmbier Treaty" by the federal government.
@Mitch(12 likes)Otto, was very foolish to do anything even remotely illegal in NOKO. He paid the ultimate price. A lesson for all venturing to those dictatorships. You’re not in Kansas anymore. His death did drive it home though, we need to control NOKO, any way we can. Hopefully, this is step one.