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The Latest: Diplomat in student’s release to attend funeral

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan takes part in a press conference upon arriving at the Organization of American States General Assembly, in Cancun, Mexico, Tuesday, June 20, 2017. The United States and Venezuela exchanged harsh words Tuesday at the OAS general assembly, after the U.S. representative said the OAS must pass some kind of resolution on the troubled South American country to remain true to its principles. (AP Photo/Israel Leal)

WYOMING, Ohio (AP) — The Latest on the death of U.S. college student who was held by North Korea (all times local):

4:30 p.m.

A U.S. diplomat who traveled to North Korea to secure the release of American college student Otto Warmbier (WORM’-bir) plans to attend his funeral in Ohio on Thursday.

The Department of State says Ambassador Joseph Yun plans to attend with Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, the No. 2 American diplomat.

Yun is a U.S. special envoy. He handles North Korean issues for the Department of State and met with North Korean officials in Norway and New York about Warmbier’s release. He took two doctors with him this month to North Korea to bring Warmbier home.

Warmbier returned to the Cincinnati area last week in a coma. He died Monday. The University of Virginia student was 22 years old.

President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are not expected to attend the funeral.


3:30 p.m.

Ohio’s Republican U.S. senator says he had a secret meeting in December with North Korean officials to urge that they release a college student from his Cincinnati home area.

Sen. Rob Portman said Wednesday he met with members of North Korea’s mission to the United Nations, the country’s only U.S. presence. He declined to give names or titles and said it was at “another location in New York.”

Portman says the officials indicated they would relay his request to free University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier (WORM’-bir), who had been held nearly a year at that point.

Warmbier had tearfully confessed he tried to steal a propaganda banner and had been convicted of subversion. He was returned home in a coma last week and died this week.

Portman plans to attend Warmbier’s funeral Thursday.


1:50 p.m.

Otto Warmbier’s college girlfriend says he was her soul mate who helped her “become a better human being.”

Alex Vagonis spoke about him at a candlelight vigil Tuesday evening on the University of Virginia campus that was attended by other students and university faculty.

She was the Ohio youth’s girlfriend at the time of his detention in North Korea that began in January 2015.

She said he knew everyone on campus and had an “insane tie collection.”

She finds some peace knowing he made it back to Ohio before he died Monday.


10:55 a.m.

The Ohio hometown of the 22-year-old college student detained for nearly a year and a half in North Korea before being sent home in a coma is making plans for his funeral.

Wyoming officials say the celebration of life for Otto Warmbier will be Thursday morning in the Wyoming High School auditorium. While the service is open to the public, news media will be kept outside the school and outside the cemetery afterward in designated areas. The family plans to release photos afterward.

The Hamilton County coroner is still trying to determine the manner and cause of his death Monday, less than a week after his return.

The University of Virginia student was accused of trying to steal a propaganda banner while visiting and was convicted of subversion.

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