Trump praises North Korea's release of Americans

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During his visit, Pompeo also finalized some of the details for the upcoming summit between Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

They are the latest in a series of Americans to be held in North Korea for alleged anti-state activities in recent years, only to be freed during the visit of a high-level US official or statesman.

Earlier on Wednesday, Trump tweeted that Pompeo is on his way back from the DPRK with three released US citizens that had been detained. It added that the family appreciates "the support and prayers of friends and even strangers during this challenging year". But Singapore is a very valued U.S. partner and a remarkable city-state that punches many times above its weight. The interview was conducted in the presence of North Korean officials, so CNN could not determine whether Kim's comments were made under duress.

Kim said he released the three Americans after an "official suggestion" from Trump.

A North Korean official came to the hotel shortly after to inform Pompeo that Kim had granted amnesties to the three and that they would be released at 7 p.m. local time, according to a senior USA official present for the exchange. Their arrests were widely seen as politically motivated and had compounded the dire state of relations over the isolated nation's nuclear weapons.

President Donald Trump is hailing the release of three Americans detained in North Korea as they make their way back home.

It came after a flurry of covert diplomatic contacts between Washington and Pyongyang amid an escalating war of words between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump.

"It'll be quite a scene and to me it's very exciting because it represents something".

The release capped a dramatic day of diplomacy in Pyongyang. Kim also goes by his Korean name, Kim Sang-duk.

Trump continues his social media tirade against the North Korean leader in a below-the-belt tweet on November 11, when the US president was in Vietnam on his Asia tour. Warmbier died in June 2017, days after he arrived back in the US with severe brain damage. North Korean state media said he also was arrested on suspicion of committing "hostile acts" against the government. His parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, have filed a wrongful death lawsuit, accusing the government of torturing and killing their son.

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"We will not relieve sanctions until such time as we have achieved our objectives", Pompeo said. Regardless of how it goes, Kim could use the summit as evidence that his regime is strong and stable enough to bring the US president to the table. Kim, 64, was sentenced to 10 years of hard labor. He had been based in the Chinese city of Yanji, near the border with North Korea, and travelled back and forth to the special economic zone of Rajin-Sonbong, where he managed a hotel business.

The other two detainees hadn't been tried. Both worked at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, which bills itself as the only privately run university in the North Korean capital. Some 28,500 United States forces are based in the allied nation, a military presence that has been preserved to deter North Korea since the war ended in 1953 without a peace treaty. He was detained last May for alleged anti-state activities.

The three USA citizens - Kim Dong-chul, Kim Sang-duk (known as Tony Kim), and Kim Hak-song - had been released from a labor camp and given "health treatment and ideological education" in Pyongyang, the Financial Times reported earlier this month. He was accused of committing unspecified criminal acts meant to overthrow the government. The US president said, more information would be released in the upcoming days.

"We have been asking for the release of these detainees for 17 months".

Their release would be a "great gesture" he said, adding that he hoped the DPRK would "do the right thing".

"Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me 'old, ' when I would NEVER call him 'short and fat?'" Trump tweeted.

"One is a pastor, one is a self-described missionary", Kuhn said.

The release appeared to signal an effort by Kim to set a more positive tone for the summit and followed his recent pledge to suspend missile tests and shut Pyongyang's nuclear bomb test site.

"Pompeo was on the ground in North Korea for 13 hours". Why would the United States withdraw its 28,500 troops?

After meeting leader Kim Jong Un, Pompeo had given a fingers-crossed sign when asked if there was good news.