The president, vice president and first lady were among those on hand to welcome home three Americans released from North Korean detention during Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent trip to the hermit kingdom.
President Donald Trump announced their return in a Wednesday tweet and the men landed at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland early Thursday morning.
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
Trump, along with first lady Melania Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, were on the ground upon the arrival of Kim Dong Chul, Tony Kim and Kim Hak Song.
The returning Americans’ families were not at the base for their homecoming, however, and all of the men were transported from the site to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to undergo medical evaluations.
For the flight from Japan to the U.S., the three men were reportedly transported on a separate, larger government jet capable of accommodating the medical equipment needed to monitor their health.
Their release from North Korean prison came as leader Kim Jong Un is engaging in unprecedented diplomatic peace talks. Following his historic visit to South Korea last month, the release of the three Americans helped pave the way for a summit between Kim and Trump.
In North Korea, state television broadcast news of the prisoners’ release, citing Trump’s “official suggestion” as the reason they were granted amnesty.
“This is a special night for these three really great people,” Trump said from the tarmac Thursday morning.
He went on to cite positive developments between the U.S. and North Korea, suggesting the two nations are “starting off on a new footing.”
After hinting at the announcement a few times in recent days, Trump revealed the time and place of the upcoming summit in a tweet later in the day.
The highly anticipated meeting between Kim Jong Un and myself will take place in Singapore on June 12th. We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 10, 2018
“The highly anticipated meeting between Kim Jong Un and myself will take place in Singapore on June 12th,” he tweeted. “We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!”
A translator accompanying the freed prisoners said the experience has been “like a dream” and that they are all “very, very happy” to be back on American soil.
The three men put out a statement expressing gratitude to those who were involved in helping secure their freedom.
“We would like to express our deep appreciation to the United States government, President Trump, Secretary Pompeo, and the people of the United States for bringing us home,” the statement read.
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