As our plane descended Tuesday into the USA air base in Yokota, Japan, for its second refueling stop, Trump announced that his top diplomat was on his way to Pyongyang.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo brought the prisoners home after his second meeting with Kim. The men - Kim Dong-chul, Kim Hak-song and Tony Kim - had been released Wednesday amid a warming of relations between the longtime adversaries. He returned on a separate plane, joining Trump, first lady Melania Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on the tarmac. Trump then emerged from the plane, followed by the three men.
USA officials had made it clear to their North Korean counterparts that the Americans' release was paramount.
"This is a special night for these three really great people", Trump told reporters. North Korea said he was colluding with the South Korean spy agency, which denied being involved with Kim.
They appeared exhausted but in excellent spirits, flashing peace signs and waving their arms as they emerged from the aircraft. "We are very, very happy". President Donald Trump is on hand to greet them. The aircraft is parked before a large American flag suspended between two fire trucks. "And I think it'll be very successful".
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Otto Warmbier was imprisoned for trying to steal a political banner.
Department officials took great pains on the prisoners' release in North Korea, as well as on their flights to Japan and Alaska, to keep them sequestered not only from the two journalists traveling with Pompeo but also from staffers not immediately involved in their cases.
Pompeo had secured their release in Pyongyang after meeting with Kim on final plans for the Trump-Kim summit. 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. As for America, there is a bilateral free-trade agreement between them and Singapore is a strategic partner. "We've picked a place for the meeting, or 'summit, ' as you like to call it", said Trump. "We thank God, and all our families and friends who prayed for us and for our return".
"Singapore has been a great friend to the USA but also Singapore has carefully worked to be a friend to all, which has earned it trust in capitals around the world", he said.
In a statement published by Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kim told Xi that the realization of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is a consistent and clear position of North Korea.
Kang said there must be "airtight" coordination between South Korea and the USA ahead of President Donald Trump's upcoming meeting with Kim. In particular, the USA intends to confirm the terms of a full denuclearization of North Korea.
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President Donald Trump is promising "quite a scene" when three Korean Americans detained in North Korea return to the mainland USA after more than a year in prison.
Pompeo Friday promised the United States would work to rebuild North Korea's sanctions-hit economy if it agreed to surrender its nuclear arsenal.
He said its policy was now "to concentrate all efforts into economic progress", but stressed that this had nothing to do with worldwide sanctions imposed on the country.
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. "We know who we are dealing with here", said Victoria Coates, of the National Security Council.
After the release of the detainees Thursday, North Korea's state-run media explicitly mentioned plans for the summit for the first time Thursday.
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It will assemble at the national training center in Teresopolis on May 21 before heading to London for training a week later. I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me, I've lived my dreams.