May 9, 2018 / 12:45 PM / 18 days ago

Top diplomat returning from North Korea with three U.S. detainees: Trump

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that three Americans detained by North Korea have been released and are on their way home with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

A North Korean flag flies on a mast at the Permanent Mission of North Korea in Geneva October 2, 2014. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/Files

“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 wrote in a post on Twitter.

Trump said he will greet Pompeo and the Americans when they land at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington at 2 a.m. EDT (0600 GMT) Thursday morning. “Very exciting!” he wrote on Twitter.

The fate of Korean-Americans Kim Hak-song, Tony Kim and Kim Dong-chul had been among a number of delicate issues in the run-up to the first-ever meeting of U.S. and North Korean leaders.

Trump sent Pompeo to Pyongyang to accompany the men home following U.S. calls for Kim to free them as a gesture of goodwill and sincerity before the U.S.-North Korea meeting, which is expected to take place in late May or early June.

Tony Kim, one of the three Americans being held captive by North Korea, is seen in this photo taken in California in 2016, released to Reuters by the family of Tony Kim March 11, 2018. Courtesy of the family of Tony Kim/Handout via REUTERS

Reporting by Makini Brice, Susan Heavey, Doina Chiacu; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe

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