Trump hails N Korea's United States detainees release as 'gesture of good will'


Trump tweeted about the release of the three Americans early Wednesday morning, saying that they "seem to be in good health" and he "will be there to greet them" when they land at Andrews Air Force Base.

Donald Trump has said a time and place for his historic summit with Kim Jong Un will be announced "within three days".

Trump also said the date and place for the meeting has been set.

Kim Dong Chul, a Korean-American missionary formerly of Fairfax, Virginia, and thought to be about 62, was sentenced in March 2016 to 10 years of hard labor for subversion.

The three had been held for periods ranging from one and two years.

While Kim is giving up the last of his remaining American prisoners who North Korea has often used in the past as bargaining chips with the United States, it could also be aimed at getting Trump to make concessions of his own in his bid to get Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear arsenal.

North Korea remains technically at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended with a ceasefire rather than an armistice, and Pyongyang has long insisted that it needs nuclear weapons to defend itself from a possible USA invasion.

"For decades, we have been adversaries".

South Korea heralded the move as positive for the upcoming talks between Trump and Kim and called on Pyongyang to also release six South Korean detainees.

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.

Crediting himself for recent progress, Trump has pointed to Kim's willingness to come to the negotiating table as validating US moves to tighten sanctions - branded "maximum pressure" by the president.

In quitting the Iran nuclear deal, Trump pitted the USA against some of its closest allies and leaving the future of Tehran's nuclear ambitions in question. Accompanying him were a handful of senior aides, a security detail and two journalists - one from The Associated Press and one from The Washington Post, both given roughly four hours' notice of his departure.

Pompeo said Wednesday he was "thrilled" the men were now out.

The release capped a dramatic day of diplomacy in Pyongyang. Write to us in the Comments Section.

The payments raised questions about the propriety of the dealings and whether Trump, who came to office promising to drain the "swamp" that he said Washington is, was aware of all this.

Even before Pompeo's plane had touched down for a stopover at Yokota Air Base in neighboring Japan, the president announced to the world by Twitter that the "3 wonderful gentlemen" were free. He was confirmed and sworn in as secretary of state on April 26 and quickly departed on his first foreign trip to Europe and the Middle East.

Mr Warmbier's death escalated tensions already running high at the time over Pyongyang's stepped-up missile tests.

It comes after he suggested that the demilitarised zone would be the ideal location to meet with Mr Kim last month.

In a tweet, Pompeo said he was "delighted" to bring home the three former captives.

Warmbier was detained in January 2016 while visiting North Korea at the end of a five-day tour. He said the two sides need to coordinate in the days ahead on setting conditions for a successful meeting.

USA citizens Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller were released after a secret mission to North Korea by James Clapper, then the Director of National Intelligence.

He had said he was interested in holding the historic meeting on the heavily fortified border separating North and South Korea.

Kim was quoted by China's official news agency Xinhua as saying on Monday, "I hope to build mutual trust with the USA through dialogue". After his 90-minute meeting with Kim Jong Un, he gave reporters a fingers-crossed sign when asked about the prisoners as he returned to his hotel.

But his exact demands for relinquishing weapons that his nation spent decades building remain unclear.

"We are happy for the hostages and their families", the Warmbiers said in a statement Wednesday. But Singapore is a very valued USA partner and a remarkable city-state that punches many times above its weight.

Mattis, in his Senate remarks, did not rule out that the United States could eventually examine troop levels in South Korea as part of a bilateral discussion between Washington and Seoul, potentially concurrent with talks with Pyongyang. Some 28,500 USA forces are based in the allied nation, a military presence that has been preserved to deter North Korea since the war ended in 1953 without a peace treaty.