Three US prisoners returning home from N Korea

Spectators listen to a television news broadcast of a statement by North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un before a public television screen outside the central railway station in Pyongyang

Mike Pompeo paves the way in Pyongyang for Trump-Kim summit

Three American detainees who were being held in North Korea are now on their way home with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Trump also said Pompeo had a "good meeting" with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and that a date and place for the leaders' planned summit has been established.

"We're granting amnesty to the three detained Americans", the North Korean emissary told Pompeo at Pyongyang's Koryo Hotel, according to the senior usa official who requested anonymity to discuss the exchange. Trump said on Twitter that there had been a "good meeting with Kim Jong Un", adding: "Date & Place set".

Some experts anxious about the optics of a meeting being held with a leader whose country had imprisoned American citizens on what many believe were bogus charges. "But we expect that to be announced here in the next few days". Though they're all surnamed Kim, they are not related.

"President Trump appreciates leader Kim Jong Un's action to release these American citizens, and views this as a positive gesture of goodwill", the White House remarked in a statement. KIM HAK SONGKim Hak Song was also an employee at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology before he was detained. He was later accused of attempting to overthrow the North Korean government.

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Pompeo and officials traveling with him said the Trump administration would not repeat mistakes of the past, which they described as accepting gradual, incremental and long-term disarmament in exchange for immediate benefits. His family said Mr Kim will soon become a grandfather.

Trump acolytes declared the release an unbridled political victory, evidence, vice president Mike Pence said, that "strong leadership and our America First policies are paying dividends".

During the visit, announced only after it was over, Kim told Xi he hoped relevant parties would take "phased" and "synchronized" measures to realise denuclearisation and lasting peace on the peninsula, according to Chinese state media.

Kim Dong-Chul has been held since October 2015, Tony Kim and Kim Hak-Song since last spring. Not a grudging acknowledgement of a potential upside, thrown in at the end to hedge one's bets, but an earnest appreciation of how significant this rapprochement might be to a country torn apart for over 70 years.

Delury also said that it can be linguistically confusing for Asians when Americans transition quickly to calling them by their given names - an informality that can often be seen as disrespectful in an East Asian context.

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"I think there is reason for some optimism that these talks could be fruitful", U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said of the coming summit.

The family of Tony Kim, one of freed prisoners, thanked Trump, saying in a statement: "We are very grateful for the release of our husband and father, Tony Kim, and the other two American detainees". He was educated at a university in California.

Toasting the secretary of state, a scene that would have been unthinkable a year ago as Trump and Kim Jong Un traded threats of war, Kim Yong Chol said "everything is going well in Pyongyang now".

Gomes was held for about seven months in North Korea after he crossed into the country from China in January 2010 on what he saw as a religious mission. In 2015, Kim was arrested on suspicion of colluding with a South Korea spy agency. The interview was conducted in the presence of North Korean officials, so CNN could not determine whether Kim's comments were made under duress.

But strong global sanctions in response to a major nuclear test in September, and several missile tests which suggest the North is capable of targeting the majority of the USA, have pushed Pyongyang to engage diplomatically, King added.

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