Three Americans detained in North Korea for more than a year are on their way back to the USA with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday in the latest sign of improving relations between the two longtime adversary nations.
Today the White House said the President viewed the decision to release the American prisoners as a "positive gesture and a step in the right direction".
"We thank God and all our families and friends who prayed for us and for our return".
The three American prisoners released by North Korea have reached Alaska, where their plane has stopped to refuel. AP #4152917/3 "And we very much look forward to having the meeting between the United States and North Korea and that will be announced over the next couple of days as to timing". The dispatch also made the first official mention by the North of plans for the Trump-Kim summit.
Two months later, North Korea announced it would send athletes to the Winter Olympics in neighbouring South Korea and so began the charm offensive of 2018.
Later, Pompeo said the senior official had been a great partner in working to make the summit a success. He ruled out the heavily fortified demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, increasing the possibility the meeting could take place in Singapore, which he previously said was under consideration. Shortly after Kim Hak-song was detained, his wife said in an interview with CNN that her husband is an agricultural expert and was teaching rice-growing at the university, trying to help North Koreans feed themselves.
The fate of the three Korean-Americans had been among a number of delicate issues in the run-up to summit, which is being planned for late May or early June. Kim Hyo-sun, Arirang News.
The first summit between a sitting United States president and a North Korean leader will take place in Singapore, CNN reported on Wednesday.More news: May-hem! Revellers dress as JIMMY SAVILE as Bank Holiday
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"You should make care that they do not make the same mistakes again", the North Korean official was quoted as saying. The three men had been sentenced to years of hard labor.
"Though we're not quite back home yet, I welcomed them back", he said, recounting his first words with the men after they were freed.
Tony Kim, also known as Kim Sang-duk, also worked at PUST.
They are the latest in a series of Americans to be held in North Korea for alleged anti-state activities in recent years, only to be freed during the visit of a high-level USA official or statesman. "They were happy to be with us on this plane to be sure", he said. Numerous foreigners detained by North Korea in the past have said the government forced them into making confessions to false or trumped-up charges.
The Trump administration has put the squeeze on North Korea, tightening sanctions and exerting pressure on others, like China, to enforce them.
Kim noted the improved relations between the Koreas, as well as the North's policy to "concentrate all efforts into economic progress" in the country.
People can be jailed by the regime for nearly anything, activists say, with crimes ranging from watching a South Korean DVD to trying to defect from the country. North Korea is stating clearly that what is on the table is merely tension reduction and possible ultimate global arms reduction.