North Korea releases American prisoners, Trump says

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Still, he emphasized his optimism at the prospects of reaching a historic agreement to denuclearize North Korea.

On the world stage, Trump moved quickly as president to pull the USA out of the Paris climate agreement that Obama's administration helped broker, abandoned Obama's sweeping free-trade deal with Asia, and pulled back from the historic rapprochement with Cuba.

But he added: "They'd be anxious less about Trump pulling out of a deal than his successor". "They were happy to be with us on this plane, to be sure".

"McConnell spoke Wednesday as he opened the Senate". Here's what we know about the newly released men: KIM DONG CHULKim was detained the longest of the three, having spent at least 900 days in custody.

"It will not be" at the DMZ, Trump said in response to a question from reporters at the end of a meeting with his Cabinet on Wednesday.

"We're granting amnesty to the three detained Americans", the North Korean emissary told Pompeo at Pyongyang's Koryo Hotel, according to the senior USA official who requested anonymity to discuss the exchange.

The prisoners, Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak Song and Tony Kim, were accused of anti-state activities by North Korea.

After meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Mr Pompeo had given a fingers-crossed sign when asked if there was good news, the AP reported.

After departing Pyongyang Wednesday, Pompeo said the summit details will be announced "in the next handful of days". Numerous foreigners detained by North Korea in the past have said the government forced them into making confessions to false or trumped-up charges. "They seem to be in good health", Trump announced in a tweet.

"Pompeo was on the ground in North Korea for 13 hours".

The three boarded under their own steam, when most of the USA delegation had already got on the plane. Other Americans taken captive by North Korea have said after their release they were forced into making confessions.

Pence says Pompeo did a "remarkable job" overseeing their release and calls it a "proud and memorable moment for America".

Bolton himself said the USA was looking for a "real deal" with Pyongyang that would include "the elimination of both the front and the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle; no uranium enrichment; no plutonium reprocessing".

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An official with knowledge of the negotiations previously told CNN that the North Koreans made a decision to free the Americans two months ago, and that North Korea's foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, had proposed their release during his visit to Sweden in March.

But former spy chief Kim Yong Chul, director of North Korea's United Front Department, said in a toast to Pompeo over lunch in Pyongyang: "We have perfected our nuclear capability".

No specifics were offered although other officials said Singapore is emerging as the most likely venue.

Trump revealed that the three men were freed after Pompeo met Kim.

Now, the family of Tony Kim, one of the released prisoners, has released a statement.

The family of 59-year-old Tony Kim is thanking "all of those who have worked toward and contributed to his return home".

By Trump's own standard, then, his North Korea talks must yield a deal in which North Korea halts all enrichment and lets United Nations inspectors into its military bases. "Mostly we thank God for Tony's safe return". "We appreciate all of the support and prayers of friends and even strangers during this challenging year".

"Releasing Americans who were detained in North Korea is a first step in that direction".

On Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump announced that the three USA prisoners that were being held in North Korea had been freed and were coming back to the United States with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Pompeo had been in the region and stopped off in North Korea on the way back from Japan.

"Emotionally and psychologically, they (the North Koreans) were trying to wear me out", said Bae. He wrote on Twitter that Secretary of State had gone to North Korea and is bringing the three of them back with himself.

North Korea's official news agency, KCNA, said early Thursday that Kim "accepted an official suggestion of the USA president for the release of Americans who have been detained in the DPRK for their anti-DPRK hostilities", referring to the initials of the authoritarian nation's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. It had not been publicly disclosed when he flew out of Washington under cover of darkness late Monday aboard an Air Force 757.

The North Korean official then advised that the releases would follow a "very brief ceremony" - which he described as more like a legal process.