North Korea frees three USA detainees

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North Korea, which has been pursuing nuclear and missile programs in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions, figured prominently in talks between the three leaders in Tokyo after South Korean President Moon Jae-in's historic meeting last month with the North's Kim Jong Un.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he had a "good, lengthy" conversation with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un and that a date and time for a summit with President Donald Trump has been set.

Pompeo and the detainees will be landing at Andrews Air Force Base at 2:00 A.M. Thursday, Washington time, Trump said.

All three appeared to be in good health and were able to walk without help, the White House said.

Kimg Hak-Song, who also worked at the university, was detailed in May 2017 for "hostile acts" against North Korea, while Kim Dong-Chul was sentenced in April 2016 to 10 years in prison with hard labor for charges of espionage and subversion.

US and North Korean officials also met to discuss details for the summit, with an American official who joined Pompeo on the trip saying the two sides had made "substantial progress" toward the summit and the two sides are planning another in-person meeting to finalize details.

Only one of the three Americans stood trial: Kim Dong-chul was in April 2016 sentenced to ten years' hard labor for having committed "unpardonable espionage" on behalf of the US and South Korea.

The U.S. official, who was involved in those talks, said the two sides would meet once again to finalize the details. Born in South Korea, Kim has USA citizenship and has lived in Virginia.

The last American to be released before this, college student Otto Warmbier, died in June 2017, days after he was repatriated to the us with severe brain damage.

Talk of the captives' release had increased as the USA and North Korea's regime engaged in rare talks - and worked to arrange a meeting between Trump and Kim Jong Un.

Trump has demanded that North Korea give up its nukes, while Kim has offered few indications about what he is willing to concede or what he will demand in return.

The White House on Wednesday confirmed the release of three U.S. citizens detained in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), saying U.S. President Donald Trump appreciates the release and views it as "a positive gesture of goodwill".

The North's official KCNA news agency reported that Clinton had an "exhaustive conversation" over dinner with Kim and passed on a verbal message from then-president Barack Obama.

Kim was also tasked with taking photographs of military secrets and helping to spread anti-North Korean propaganda, he said in the interview.

Pompeo and officials traveling with him said the Trump administration would not repeat mistakes of the past, which they described as accepting gradual, incremental and long-term disarmament in exchange for immediate benefits.

Tony Kim and Kim Hak-song, who were arrested in April and May of 2017, respectively, were both accused of carrying out "hostile acts" against the Kim Jong Un regime.

The news comes as Mr. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are making plans for a summit that could happen within weeks.

The fate of the three Korean-Americans had been among a number of delicate issues in the run-up to the first-ever meeting of US and North Korean leaders, which is being planned for late May or early June. The university's co-founder said that Kim, who managed the school's experimental farm at the college of agriculture and life sciences, was detained in May while traveling on a train from Pyongyang to the Chinese border town of Dandong. "It is our policy to concentrate all efforts into economic progress in country", he said.

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".

Americans made the journey to North Korea for a range of reasons, from holidays and business trips to humanitarian work and missionary purposes.

The rapid detente on the Korean peninsula triggered by the Winter Olympics is a marked contrast from past year, when Kim and Trump traded personal insults and threats of war over the North's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

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

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