Pompeo returning with 3 US prisoners from North Korea - Trump
US President Donald Trump tweeted that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is returning from the Korean Peninsula with three freed political prisoners. Trump also said that the date for his meeting with Kim Jong-un has been set.
“I am pleased to inform you that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in the air and on his way back from North Korea with the 3 wonderful gentlemen that everyone is looking so forward to meeting. They seem to be in good health. Also, good meeting with Kim Jong Un. Date & Place set,” Trump tweeted Wednesday. The meeting is widely expected to take place in late May or early June.
I am pleased to inform you that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in the air and on his way back from North Korea with the 3 wonderful gentlemen that everyone is looking so forward to meeting. They seem to be in good health. Also, good meeting with Kim Jong Un. Date & Place set.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 9, 2018
Trump went on to add that former detainees, Korean-Americans Kim Hak-song, Tony Kim and Kim Dong-chul, would be touching down at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland at approximately 2 am local time, where the president will greet them in person. He said that the men appeared to be in good health.
Secretary Pompeo and his “guests” will be landing at Andrews Air Force Base at 2:00 A.M. in the morning. I will be there to greet them. Very exciting!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 9, 2018
The South Korean government has welcomed the news of the prisoners' release, saying it would have a "positive effect" on the upcoming summit between the US and North Korean leadership.
Seoul also called for the release of six South Korean detainees to "reinforce the reconciliation" between the two Koreas, according to Blue House spokesman Yoon Young-chan.
Meanwhile, US Defense Secretary James Mattis told the Senate that the withdrawal of US troops from the peninsula would be a sovereign decision of the US and South Korea, and therefore "not something that would be on the table in the initial negotiation.”
Agricultural expert Kim Hak-song worked at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) teaching rice-farming techniques but was detained by the North Korean government on May 7, 2017, reportedly for "hostile acts." Kim is a naturalized American citizen and studied at the University of California. Kim was also ordained as an evangelical Christian pastor in Los Angeles.
Kim Sang-duk, AKA Tony Kim, also worked at PUST but was arrested on espionage charges as he attempted to leave the country just a month after he began working there. Before moving to North Korea, Kim studied accounting at two US universities before working in the profession for over a decade.
Kim Dong Chul was another naturalized US citizen arrested by the North Korean regime in October 2015 on spying charges. Kim told CNN in an interview that he was caught meeting a source to obtain a USB stick and camera to gather military secrets. The interview was conducted in the presence of a North Korean official and via a government translator.
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