Updated at 9:41 a.m. ET
President Trump announced Wednesday that three Americans who were detained in North Korea are now free, marking perhaps the most significant success so far in the Trump administration’s negotiations with the regime in Pyongyang.
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
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
Mike Pompeo, the U.S. secretary of state, was in North Korea Tuesday to pin down details of Trump’s upcoming meeting with Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader, and to persuade the North Koreans to release the Americans.
“We have been asking for the release of these detainees for … 17 months,” Pompeo told reporters en route to North Korea. “We’ll talk about it again today. I think it’d be a great gesture if they would choose to do so.”
The three Americans are Kim Dong Chul, who was detained in North Korea in October 2015, charged with espionage, and sentenced to 10 years of hard labor; Kim Sang Duk, who is also known as Tony Kim, who was detained April 2017; and Kim Hak Song, also known as Jin Xue Song, who was detained in May 2017. The last two men taught at universities in Pyongyang and were accused of committing unspecified “hostile acts” against North Korea. News of their impending release was made public last week, perhaps inadvertently, by Rudolph Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who is now Trump’s lawyer, but the U.S. State Department said Giuliani was speaking for himself.