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Ahead of Trump-Kim summit, North Korea frees three American prisoners

11 May 2018

Trump, who personally greeted the trio at the Andrews Air Force Base, praised Kim for their release ahead of their summit.

However, the US Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said the release of detained American citizens from North Korea was "no great accomplishment" of Mr Kim.

Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak Song and Tony Kim, two teachers and a businessman, were held in North Korea for more than a year on charges of committing ant-state activities, including spying and hostile acts.

"It will not be there", he said before a Cabinet meeting at the White House, according to various news outlets.

"As everybody is aware, the past administration has always been asking for three hostages to be released from a North Korean Labor camp, but to no avail. I really think we have a very good chance of doing something very meaningful". "It's never been taken this far, there has never been a relationship like this".

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On the U.S. relationship with North Korea, Mr Trump said: "We're starting off on a new footing". "It was a very important thing to all of us".

Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence were also present to welcome the three men home.

Beyond securing the release of the three Americans, Pompeo also finalized details for the upcoming summit between Trump and Kim.

The Times ran a story Tuesday with the headline, "At a Key Moment, Trumps Top Diplomat Is Again Thousands of Miles Away", before it was revealed that he was negotiating the release of the hostages. "We will see if we can do something", Trump told reporters.

Tony Kim, a Korean-American professor, was arrested last April after a month-long assignment as a guest lecturer at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST).

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The announcement comes just hours after Trump welcomed home three USA citizens freed by North Korea.

Trump was also asked about the prospects of making a deal with the North Korean leader.

Mr Trump announced that the demilitarised zone between the Koreas would not host the summit. The two leaders are expected to meet sometime in June. "We hope this meeting will advance prospects for peace in the Korean Peninsula", the ministry added.

If it materializes, the Kim-Trump meeting will be the first time a sitting US president has met with a North Korean leader.

All three Americans appeared to be in good condition and spirits when they arrived at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, and were able to exit the plane without assistance.

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Ahead of Trump-Kim summit, North Korea frees three American prisoners