North Korea frees three United States detainees ahead of Trump summit

Bowl Cut clearly motivated to make this meeting with Trump happen (I won't call it a "summit" because that elevates Kim way above his actual station), and it's not surprising that Pompeo would make it clear a meeting is a nonstarter while the Norks are still holding American citizens.

State media KCNA also said that Kim reached a satisfactory consensus with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo upon their meeting.

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 planned summit and followed his recent pledge to suspend missile tests and shut Pyongyang's nuclear bomb test site. After Kim's release was announced, his family issued a statement through their lawyer.

"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".

In his tweet, Mr Trump added that he would personally greet the detainees when they arrive at Andrews Air Force Base at 02:50 EDT (06:50GMT) on Thursday. The dispatch also made the first official mention by the North of plans for the Trump-Kim summit. The two others - Kim Hak Song and Tony Kim - were working at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology when they were detained about a year ago.

Kim Dong Chul, a former Virginia resident who had reportedly run a company on North Korea's border with Russian Federation, had been sentenced in April 2016 to 10 years in prison with hard labor after being convicted of espionage.

The three USA citizens were released just 57 minutes before Pompeo's flight left Pyongyang. "They were happy to be with us on this plane to be sure", he said.

Agricultural expert Hak-song Kim managed an experimental farm for PUST while Sang-duk "Tony" Kim taught accounting.

North Korean state media says they were arrested either for subversion or "hostile acts" against the government.

"We're having serious positive communication with North Korea", said the president.

Kim, who had not ventured out of his isolated country for any official meetings in his first six years in power, has held two rounds of talks with President Xi Jinping in little more than a month.

The Trump administration has made clear it regarded the arrests as politically motivated, and had been bitterly critical of North Korea's refusal to grant consular access to the three, other than a brief visit by a USA envoy last June.

The Trump administration has put the squeeze on North Korea, tightening sanctions and exerting pressure on others, like China, to enforce them.

"Bring our boys home", Mr. Pence told Mr. Pompeo.

People can be jailed by the regime for nearly anything, activists say, with crimes ranging from watching a South Korean DVD to trying to defect from the country.