Trump greets accused Americans released by North korea

World | 10 May 2018 3:11 pm

Three Korean-Americans who were detained in North Korea for more than a year were greeted by President Donald Trump after they returned to the mainland U.S. early today.

Trump and the first lady Melania boarded the medical plane on which the men traveled to take a private moment with them.

The men, Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak Song and Tony Kim, were released Wednesday amid a warming of relations between the longtime adversaries. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo secured their release in Pyongyang after meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on final plans for a Trump-Kim summit. The Americans had boarded Pompeo’s plane out of North Korea without assistance and then transferred in Japan to a Boeing C-40 outfitted with medical facilities for the trip back to the U.S.

According to the White House, the three men would be transported to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for evaluation and medical treatment. Their families were not on hand for the ceremony.

Shortly after they touched down on American soil in Alaska — for a refueling stop Wednesday afternoon — the State Department released a statement from the freed men.

"We would like to express our deep appreciation to the United States government, President Trump, Secretary Pompeo, and the people of the United States for bringing us home,” they said. "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.”

Trump made a point of publicly thanking North Korea’s leader for the prisoners’ release — "I appreciate Kim Jong Un doing this” — and hailed it as a sign of cooling tensions and growing opportunity on the Korean peninsula. Kim decided to grant amnesty to the three Americans at the "official suggestion” of the U.S. president, said North Korea’s official news agency, KCNA.

North Korea had accused the three Korean-Americans of anti-state activities. Their arrests were widely seen as politically motivated and had compounded the dire state of relations over the isolated nation’s nuclear weapons.-AP

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