Freed Americans Leave North Korea, as Trump Prepares to Welcome Them Home

10 May, 2018, 06:47 | Author: Gregory Stephens
  • Seoul residents watch television reports of Mike Pompeo's visit to North Korea

President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced that three Americans who had been detained in North Korea, Kim Dong Chul, Tony Kim and Kim Hak Song, are now on their way home.

Kim, who is at the centre of a whirlwind of diplomacy as the worldwide community looks to curtail the North's nuclear programme, said his summit with Trump "would be a historic meeting" and an "excellent first step".

"Why would Kim. believe any commitments President Trump makes when he arbitrarily tears up an agreement with which the other party is complying?" he asked on Twitter. 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".

In his tweet, Mr Trump added that he would personally greet the detainees when they arrive at Andrews Air Force Base at 02:50 EDT (06:50GMT) on Thursday.

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

The three American prisoners released by North Korea have reached Alaska, where their plane has stopped to refuel. Kim Hak Song and Tony Kim, who had both taught at a university in Pyongyang that was founded with donations from Christian groups, had been held for about one year and apparently had not been tried.


Kim Dong-chul, a South Korea-born American businessman and pastor who is in his 60s, was sentenced to 10 years' hard labour in April 2016 after being charged with subversion and espionage.

A historic meeting with the South, halting long-range missile tests and now the release of three American prisoners. Their releases draw a line under an issue that had weighed on plans for a historic summit between Kim and Trump that will focus on North Korea's nuclear weapons. They were cautious about saying anything about the clandestine mission until the detainees were on an American government plane.

According to China´s official Xinhua news agency, Kim told Xi that "relevant parties" should "abolish their hostile policies and remove security threats against the DPRK".

KCNA, North Korea's state-run media outlet, reported that Kim had "accepted an official suggestion of the USA president for the release of Americans who have been detained in the DPRK for their anti-DPRK hostilities", using an acronym for North Korea's official name.

The three United States detainees being released are Korean-American missionary Kim Dong-chul, Kim Sang-duk - also known as Tony Kim - and Kim Hak-song. That contradicted Trump, who has said repeatedly that his pressure tactics brought North Korea to the negotiating table.

"They were happy to be with us on this plane, to be sure", Pompeo told reporters during the flight. "This is not the result of sanctions that have been imposed from outside".

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