- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 6, 2019

President Trump on Wednesday hosted an American oil worker who was held in Yemen for 18 months and hinted that ongoing negotiations will bring even more hostages back to U.S. shores.

“We don’t want to blow the negotiation out the window. I love doing it, because I love the end result — a happy man with a happy family,” Mr. Trump said, gesturing toward his guest, Danny Burch.

Mr. Burch was traveling in the Yemeni capital of Sana in late 2017 when he was detained by Houthi rebels. He was released to Oman in December 2018, and he beamed in a navy blue suit as Mr. Trump welcomed him and his son to the Oval Office.

“Gosh, it’s great to be an American,” Mr. Burch said.

Yemen is a country on the Arabian peninsula that, since 2015, has been riven by a civil war between factions loyal to the president in the south and Houthi-backed rebels in the north.

Mr. Trump thanked United Arab Emirates Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayid for assisting the effort to free Mr. Burch during a wide-ranging phone call on Wednesday.

In the Oval Office, Mr. Trump said recovering American captives overseas remains a top priority of his administration.

Robert O’Brien, the U.S. special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, noted the president has been able to get people home through “force of will” without concessions or payments.

Sometimes, Mr. Trump says, he doesn’t get enough credit for his efforts.

He recently complained his administration didn’t get sufficient praise for securing the release of three college basketball players accused of stealing Louis Vuitton sunglasses in China.

Elsewhere, the president also used his State of the Union Address this year to herald the return of U.S. military remains as part of denuclearization talks with North Korea.

Mr. Trump failed to reach a deal with Kim Jong-un weeks later, however, and landed in hot water for statements about Otto Warmer, a U.S. college student who died from injuries in North Korea shortly after the U.S. secured his returned home.

Mr. Trump said he believed Mr. Kim’s assertion that the dictator felt badly about what happened and didn’t now about Mr. Warmbier’s treatment.

The comments drew a rebuke from Mr. Warbier’s parents and lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Mr. Trump said he was “misinterpreted” and holds North Korea responsible, though he didn’t single out Mr. Kim.

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