Trump Greets 3 Americans Freed by North Korea

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According to the Associated Press, Pompeo also said he had "good" and "substantive" conversations with Kim earlier this week when Pompeo was in North Korea to bring home three American detainees.

The U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is traveling to North Korea, preparing for the upcoming meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un. USA officials said the release of Americans Kim Hak-song, Tony Kim and Kim Dong-chul removed a major obstacle to the summit, providing Trump with some tangible evidence that his twin-track policy of engagement and "maximum pressure" was working.

He and first lady Melania arrived at Andrews airbase, near Washington, to greet the former prisoners as their medical plane touched down in the early hours. "And I really believe it's going to be a great thing for North Korea, a great thing for South Korea and Japan".

Two months later, North Korea said it would return all 50 people on board to the South.

The freed prisoners appeared exhausted but in excellent spirits, flashing peace signs and waving their arms as they emerged from the aircraft. When asked by reporters how it felt to be home, one of the men answered through a translator, "It's like a dream; we are very, very happy".

A campaign rally in Indiana Thursday gave the president a chance to celebrate. "That was a big problem, and I think it's going to work out well".

The highly public and politically tinged display stood in stark contrast to the low-key and very private reception that the State Department had envisioned and carried out from the moment it took custody of the men, and in keeping with a tradition of trying to protect potentially traumatized victims from being thrust into the spotlight so soon after their ordeal.

The foreign minister also ruled out any easing of sanctions against North Korea in the near future.

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The three men, along with medical personnel, including a psychiatrist, were cloistered in the middle of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's plane in a small section of 12 seats that was cordoned off by curtains on both ends. The fate of the three had been among a number of delicate issues in the run-up to the summit aimed at defusing a crisis over North Korea's development of nuclear missiles capable of reaching the United States.

Pence said: "I simply let them know that while we received this news with joy, that Otto was on all our hearts and the family was in our prayers". "We thank God, and all our families and friends who prayed for us and for our return".

The diplomat said it was an honor to bring home three American citizens who had been detained in the North.

"We hope this meeting will advance prospects for peace in the Korean Peninsula", the country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement late Thursday.

Recent weeks have seen a flurry of diplomatic activity since the historic April 27 inter-Korean summit, when South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim agreed to pursue complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. North Korean state media said the men, one of whom had been held since 2015 and the other two since past year, were arrested either for subversion or "hostile acts" against the government. Their arrests were widely seen as politically motivated and had compounded the dire state of relations over the isolated nation's nuclear weapons.

The group also wants North Korea to take steps to free detainees held for activities that aren't criminalized under global law, such as freedom of speech and religion or attempting to leave the country without permission.

At the meeting with Trump, the prime minister intends to reach a common understanding with the USA president on how to handle the nuclear and missile issue and again request that he raise the abduction issue.

The last American to be released before this, college student Otto Warmbier, died in June 2017, days after he was repatriated to the USA with severe brain damage. His parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, have filed a wrongful death lawsuit, accusing the government of torturing and killing their son. "We know who we are dealing with here", said Victoria Coates, of the National Security Council.

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