North Korea frees three US detainees

North Korea frees three US detainees

President Donald Trump has announced that three Americans have been released by North Korea ahead of talks between the two nations.

"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.

Adding that Pompeo had had a "good meeting" with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Trump stated that a "date & place [has been] set" for a meeting between the two previously-incompatible leaders.

Kim Hak-song, Kim Dong Chul and Kim Sang Duk have been held in North Korea for months. Kim Sang Duk and Kim Hak-song were arrested in April and May of last year, accused of carrying out "hostile acts". According to a 2016 interview with Kim Dong Chul, he was arrested in 2015 for spying on behalf of South Korea.

It has been reported that the DPRK decided to free the Americans two months ago and that North Korea's foreign minister Ri Yong Ho had suggested their release coincide with his visit to Sweden back in March. However, this could have been read as a bargaining tool during a time when North Korean demilitarisation was top of America's foreign agenda.