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May 25 2018, 03:12 | Irvin Gilbert
N Korea releases Americans ahead of summit
Three Americans held in North Korean labor camps were free and back on USA soil Wednesday afternoon, the State Department said.
Also, good meeting with Kim Jong Un.
The Americans touched down at Anchorage International Airport on Wednesday (local time) and are traveling with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to President Donald Trump.
The North Korean leader's comments - made during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Pyongyang - represent Kim's first direct statement in DPRK state media on his planned talks with President Trump.
They add, "We thank God, and all our families and friends who prayed for us and for our return". "God bless America, the greatest nation in the world".
"The three Americans appear to be in good condition and were all able to walk on the plane without assistance", Pompeo said in a statement. "All Americans look forward to welcoming them home and to seeing them reunited with their loved ones", the statement said.
Their release was confirmed to Pompeo only two hours before his plane took off, after a day of talks.
He is a South Korean-born US businessman and pastor arrested in October 2015.
President Trump said he will announce the time and place for his upcoming summit with Kim Jong Un "within three days".
Trump said Pompeo and his "guests" will be arriving at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland at 2 a.m. ET, presumably Thursday, where he will greet them.
Aboard the plane leaving North Korea, Pompeo said he was "thrilled to have them back".
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Joseph Yun, who until March was the administration's top diplomat working on North Korea issues, told CNN the release of the three Americans is "terrific news" and he hopes they "are in good health".
Detaining - and then releasing - US citizens has given Pyongyang leverage in negotiations with Washington in the past.
The most recent case of an American being released from North Korean custody was that of Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia student who was arrested for stealing a propaganda poster. Both worked at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, which bills itself as the only privately run university in the North Korean capital.
The school said Kim's detention had nothing to do with his work at the university.
The three freed citizens are Kim Dong-chul, a businessman arrested in 2015 and serving 10 years on espionage charges; and Kim Sang-duk and Kim Hak-song, professors associated with the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology who were arrested last year.
Wednesday's KCNA statement said the Secretary of State had conveyed a personal message from the President to the North Korean leader. North Korea said he was colluding with the South Korean spy agency, which denied being involved with Kim. The city-state of 5.5 million people boasts security partnerships with the US, a North Korean embassy and strong ties with China.
According to North Korea's state media, Kim, 64, ran a company in the North's northeastern Rason special economic zone before his arrest on October 2, 2015.
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.
Talking briefly to reporters before a Cabinet meeting, Trump thanked Kim in language that was unimaginable just months ago when the two exchanged threats of nuclear annihilation.
"For decades, we have been adversaries".
In a meeting with Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of the central committee of North Korea's ruling party, Pompeo discussed the agenda for a potential leaders' summit.