It can't be "known for sure" if North Korean President Kim Jong Un's regime killed American student Otto Warmbier, but the nation should still be held responsible for his death, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Tuesday.
"This had happened while Mr. Warmbier was in the detention of North Korean authorities," Moon told "CBS This Morning," during his first one-on-one interview since his election.
"We cannot know for sure that North Korea killed Mr. Warmbier. But I believe it is quite clear that they have a heavy responsibility in the process that led to Mr. Warmbier's death."
The 22-year-old died Monday afternoon at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center less than a week after he was returned, comatose, to the United States from North Korea.
Warmbier had been sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor in North Korea after he was convicted of subversion following a confession that he tried to steal a propaganda banner.
After he was held for more than 17 months, he was medically evacuated from North Korea last week. Doctors in the United States said he'd suffered severe brain damage, but were not able to pinpoint a reason.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on Monday declared the Kim Jong Un regime had murdered Warmbier.
Moon said Tuesday he wished to convey his condolences to Warmbier's family and the American people, and that there can be many speculations "that there were many unjust and cruel treatments to Mr. Warmbier."
"I strongly condemn such cruel actions by North Korea," said Moon. "Even today, there are many Korean nationals and American citizens who are detained in North Korea. I also urge North Korea to return these people to their families."
Warmbier's death affects South Korea's efforts to restart its dialogue with North Korea, Moon told CBS News' Norah O'Donnell, "we must now have the perception that North Korea is an irrational regime."
"Working with such a country, we must achieve the goal of the complete dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear program," said Moon.
Dialogue is necessary, though, as South Korea has not been able to resolve the nuclear issue through only sanctions and pressure, the president continued.
O'Donnell pointed out that the idea of engaging in dialogue with North Korea before it is denuclearized is at odds with longstanding U.S. policy, but Moon said he does not believe that his position is at odds with that of the United States or President Donald Trump, with whom he will meet next week.
"It seems to me that President Trump has criticized the failed former policies of his predecessor administrations, and on that point, I have the same view as President Trump," said Moon.
Moon also denied that he has mentioned having a dialogue without preconditions whatsoever from North Korea.
"I believe that first we must vie for a freeze of North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, and then, as a second phase, try to achieve the complete dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear program," said Moon.
"I believe there are voices supporting such a step-by-step approach even within the United States."
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.