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Bridging The Gap
Trump says North Korea released three US detainees
  Wednesday 09 May, 2018
Trump says North Korea released three US detainees

North Korea has freed three US citizens from prison, according to a tweet from US President Donald Trump.

The move is viewed as goodwill gesture ahead of a historic summit between Mr Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong-un.

Mr Trump said he would greet the men when they return with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has been in Pyongyang to arrange the planned talks.

Kim Hak-song, Tony Kim and Kim Dong-chul had been jailed for anti-state activities and placed in labour camps.

Mr Trump announced the release of the men in a tweet on Wednesday. "They seem to be in good health," he wrote, adding that a date and location had been set for talks after a "good meeting with Kim Jong Un".

One of the detainees was jailed in 2015, the other two have been in prison for just over a year. Their convictions have been widely condemned as political and an abuse of human rights.

The fate of the detainees has been a key factor in the build up to the Trump-Kim meeting.

Earlier this month, reports emerged that they had been moved from prison to a hotel in Pyongyang, raising speculation that they could soon be released.

"Stay tuned!" Mr Trump tweeted at the time.

What has reaction been?

South Korea's presidential Blue House welcomed the release of the Americans, saying it would have a "positive effect" for upcoming negotiations.

Blue House spokesman Yoon Young-chan also called upon the North to release six South Korean prisoners.

"In order to reinforce reconciliation between South Korea and North Korea and to spread peace on the Korean peninsula, we wish for a swift repatriation of South Korean detainees," Mr Yoon said in a statement.

In a statement provided to the BBC, the family of Tony Kim said they "want to thank all of those who have worked toward and contributed to his return home".

"We also want to thank the President for engaging directly with North Korea," they add.

Ahead of his visit, the second to North Korea in under six weeks, the secretary of state said that he hoped North Korea would "do the right thing" and release the detainees.

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-44056972

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