President Trump hails release of 3 Americans from North Korea

President Donald Trump is hailing the release of three Americans detained in North Korea as they make their way back home and says he "appreciates" North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's decision to release them.

The Americans, Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak-song and Kim Sang Duk, also known as Tony Kim, have been held in North Korea for months.

While Kim Dong Chul has been in North Korean custody since before Trump was elected, the other two detainees were arrested last spring, after Trump's inauguration and as tensions between Washington and Pyongyang were beginning to ramp up.

The family of Tony Kim specifically thanked Trump for working to secure the Americans' release.

"We are very grateful for the release of our husband and father, Tony Kim, and the other two American detainees. We 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. Mostly, we thank God for Tony's safe return," the family wrote in a statement Wednesday.

"We appreciate all of the support and prayers of friends and even strangers during this challenging year. You are dear to our hearts. We ask that you continue to pray for the people of North Korea and for the release of all who are still being held. Thank you," it added.

"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," Trump tweeted.

Trump added that Pompeo had a "good meeting" with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and said a "date & place set" for a meeting between the two leaders, echoing a similar comment he made Tuesday at the White House.

Pompeo was on his second trip to North Korea, laying the groundwork for a summit between Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un — only the second sitting secretary of state to visit the country and the highest-ranking U.S. official to meet the young North Korean leader. U.S. officials had made it clear to their North Korean counterparts that the men's release was paramount.

Pompeo and the three Americans are expected to arrive in Washington at 2 a.m. Thursday, according to the president, who says he will be there to greet them. Trump said the men appear to be in "good health."

Speaking during a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Trump said he is "honored" by the release of the three Americans.

"We're honored by the fact that the three gentlemen are coming home and I look forward to seeing you," Trump said.
A statement released by the White House said Trump "appreciates Kim Jong Un's action to release these American citizens and views this as a gesture of goodwill."

"The three Americans appear to be in good condition and were all able to walk on the plane without assistance. All Americans look forward to welcoming them home and to seeing them reunited with their loved ones," the statement said.

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