Published: Thu, May 10, 2018
Worldwide | By Stella Potter

Trump says USA detainees in North Korea have been freed

Trump says USA detainees in North Korea have been freed

Trump said on Twitter that Pompeo was returning with "the 3 wonderful gentlemen that everyone is looking so forward to meeting".

Pompeo's visit comes a day after Kim Jong Un made his second trip to China in less than two months, meeting President Xi Jinping and discussing the ongoing global talks over North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes. However, he did not disclose either detail.

North Korea has released three USA citizens ahead of a meeting between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump. According to a 2016 interview with Kim Dong Chul, he was arrested in 2015 for spying on behalf of South Korea.

North and South Korea are technically still at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a treaty.

After a one-day trial, North Korea sentenced him to 10 years' hard labor on espionage charges in April 2016. He was an adjunct professor at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, or PUST, where he taught accounting, NPR's Laurel Wamsley reported in 2017.

The prisoners - Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak Song and Tony Kim - were accused by North Korea of anti-state activities. He is about the same age as the other two, but relatively little is known about him.

Kim also expressed hope that the USA and North Korea would take "phased and synchronous measures", signalling Pyongyang wanted a quid pro quo.

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un made a second secret trip to China in less than two months to meet his counterpart Xi Jinping. They were detained in 2017 and charged with "hostile acts" against the North Korean state.

President Donald Trump ruled out the Korean Demilitarized Zone as the site of his upcoming talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, despite his earlier insistence it would provide a fitting backdrop.

Pompeo also tweeted about the meeting with Kim and said he is "delighted" to bring home the three Americans.

Pompeo landed Wednesday morning Pyongyang time and was greeted by North Korean officials.

The pact, a decade in the making, also provides for regular meetings between defense officials and a mechanism for their naval vessels to communicate at sea to avert maritime incidents.

The release of the prisoners was reportedly a condition for scheduling a meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un.

Trump said the three men, who were freed after Pompeo met Kim, were on the way home from Pyongyang on the chief USA diplomat's plane. We will update as more information becomes available.

"There are many challenges along the way".

Later, Pompeo said the senior official had been a great partner in working to make the summit a success.

On Wednesday, Mr Pompeo met Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of the central committee of North Korea's ruling party, for lunch.

The South Korean newspaper Joongang Ilbo reports that Pompeo, who flew to Pyongyang after landing in Japan, told reporters on the short flight out of Japan that his goal on the trip was to "put in place a framework for a successful summit between the two presidents".

The relationship between North Korea and China had been noticeably cold since Kim came to power, as the North's weapons testing became increasingly frequent over the past few years.

The statement urged people to "continue to pray for the people of North Korea and for the release of all who are still being held". The university is funded largely by evangelical Christians from the United States and China.

North Korean state media says they were arrested either for subversion or "hostile acts" against the government. Then he toasted Pompeo.

The historic summit between the leaders of North and South Korea has whetted the former's appetite for investments from the U.S., according to a South Korean official, as quoted by the Daily Express.

The news comes as the Trump administration finalizes plans for an historic summit with the North Korean leader.

Li Keqiang, the Chinese premier and second-in-command to Xi, said that China was "in favor of dialogue to address both the symptoms and root causes, promote a political settlement of the peninsula issue and establish a peace mechanism, so as to achieve lasting peace in the region".

Trump has said that withdrawing USA forces from South Korea is "not on the table".

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