North Korea released three American prisoners and handed them over to United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo yesterday, clearing a major obstacle to an unprecedented summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The men, who were freed after Pompeo met Kim, were on the way home from Pyongyang on the chief U.S. diplomat’s plane as at press time. Trump said he planned to greet them when they land at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington at around 2 a.m. EDT today morning.
The release, which was praised by the White House as a “gesture of goodwill,” appeared to signal an effort by Kim to set a more favorable tone for the summit and followed his recent pledge to suspend missile tests and shut a North Korean nuclear bomb test site.
While Kim is giving up the last of his American detainees, whom North Korea has often used as bargaining chips with the United States, a release could also be aimed at pressuring Trump to make concessions of his own as he tries to get Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear arsenal, something it has not signaled a willingness to do.