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by Daveda Gruber:

President Trump announced on Wednesday that the three American prisoners held in North Korea have been released. Alongside Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, they are en route to the U.S. He is returning from a short visit to Pyongyang.

Trump tweeted:

As you can see, a date and location have now been set for his meeting with Kim Jong Un.

On Tuesday Pompeo arrived in North Korea in preparation for the upcoming summit between the two leaders. When Trump, announced Pompeo’s visit, he had hinted at the possibility of the prisoner’s release.

On Tuesday when asked at the White House whether the prisoners would be freed, he said, “We will soon be finding out. It would be a great thing if they are, we’ll soon be finding out.”

Pompeo was on his way to North Korea at the same time that Trump announced the U.S. would pull back from the Iran nuclear agreement. Trump is hoping to now make headway against North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

Trump hinted last week that the release of the prisoners was imminent. He tweeted:

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said that it would be seen as “a sign of good will” if North Korea released the prisoners.

Released are:

Kim Dong Chul: A South Korea-born U.S. citizen and former Virginia resident, was sentenced in April 2016 to 10 years in prison with hard labor after being convicted of espionage. He reportedly ran a trade and hotel service company in Rason, a special economic zone on North Korea’s border with Russia.

Tony Kim: Was detained at Pyongyang’s airport in April 2017 and accused of unspecified “hostile acts” against the regime. He taught accounting at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.

Kim Hak Song: An ethnic Korean born in China, was detained in May 2017 for “hostile acts.” He worked in agricultural development at an experimental farm run by the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, which was founded in 2010 with donations from Christian groups.

An American detainee, Otto Warmbier, died in June 2017. This was just days after he was brought back to the U.S. with severe brain damage. Warmbier had been arrested in January 2016 and accused of stealing a propaganda poster and was sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor.

Pompeo’s latest trip is a move in a constantly evolving diplomatic situation in the region.

On Tuesday Kim met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in China. This was the second meeting in recent months.

Kim met this month with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in South Korea. During the summit, the two discussed denuclearization and declared a formal end to the Korean War. The North Korean regime has said it will end its nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missile testing program.

The three American coming home is a big step forward and a show of good will, for the upcoming meeting with Kim and Trump.


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