Release of three Americans by North Korea bolsters hopes for academic diplomacy

Release of three Americans by North Korea bolsters hopes for academic diplomacy

The leader of the hermit kingdom has been collecting photo opportunities with world leaders like fridge magnets in recent months following talks with President Xi Jinping, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and now two meetings with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

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

Kim, who is at the centre of a whirlwind of diplomacy as the global community looks to curtail the North's nuclear programme, said his summit with Trump "would be a historic meeting" and an "excellent first step". AP #4152917/3 "And we very much look forward to having the meeting between the United States and North Korea and that will be announced over the next couple of days as to timing". "They seem to be in good health", Trump wrote on Twitter.

The family of Tony Kim, one of the freed prisoners, said in a statement: "We are very grateful for the release of our husband and father, Tony Kim, and the other two American detainees". KIM HAK SONGKim Hak Song was also an employee at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology before he was detained.

Kim Dong Chul was arrested in 2015 for spying on behalf of South Korea, he told CNN in January 2016.

North Korea remains technically at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended with a ceasefire rather than an armistice, and Pyongyang has long insisted that it needs nuclear weapons to defend itself from a possible USA invasion. They were cautious about saying anything about the clandestine mission until the detainees were on an American government plane.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency has reported Kim is in his late 50s and said he had been involved in relief activities for children in rural parts of North Korea.

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Trump and his allies outside the government had sought to fan the heightened expectations ahead of Thursday's official announcement, casting the potential development as evidence of his negotiating prowess ahead of the summit.

As Pompeo returned to his Pyongyang hotel from a 90-minute meeting with Kim, the secretary of state crossed his fingers when asked by reporters if there was good news about the prisoners. The envoy had repatriated college student Otto Warmbier, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor for stealing a propaganda poster.

Pompeo has described U.S. objectives for the summit as the immediate "permanent, verifiable irreversible dismantling of North Korea's weapons of mass destruction program".

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

In the first instance, it may well be the mere presence of the US President at such talks which will give global legitimacy to the North Korean leader who craves respect.

"This is not a result of sanctions that have been imposed from outside", he added, citing the will of the Korean people.

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