Donald Trump Welcomes U.S. Prisoners Released By North Korea

A significant move from Kim, ahead of the U.S.-North Korea summit.

What you need to know
  • Donald Trump has met three prisoners released from North Korea
  • Trump thanked Kim for their release
  • Trump's meeting with Kim will occur in less than six weeks on June 12

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md./WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- President Donald Trump welcomed three Americans who had been held prisoner in North Korea back home on Thursday, thanking its leader Kim Jong-Un for their release and sounding upbeat about a planned U.S.-North Korea summit.

The former prisoners, freed after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo travelled to Pyongyang for a second meeting with Kim in less than six weeks, landed at around 2:40 a.m. (1640 AEST) at Joint Base Andrews near Washington.

Trump and his wife, Melania, boarded the plane for about five minutes before the three men stepped out, shaking hands with the president and waving to media and military personnel.

Trump greets released prisoners. Image: Getty Images.

“Frankly, we didn’t think it was going to happen and it did,” Trump said after thanking Kim for releasing the men.

“We’re starting off on a new footing. This is a wonderful thing that he released the folks early.”

Trump said he believed Kim wanted to bring North Korea “into the real world” and had high hopes for their planned meeting, which would be the first between a serving U.S. president and a North Korean leader.

Trump greets released prisoners. Image: Getty Images.

“I think we have a very good chance of doing something very meaningful,” Trump said. “My proudest achievement will be - this is part of it - when we denuclearize that entire peninsula.”

Roberta Rampton and David Brunnstrom. Additional reporting by Steve Holland in WASHINGTON; Haejin Choi and Christine Kim in SEOUL; Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Writing by Lincoln Feast; Editing by Nick Macfie and John Stonestreet.