Updated: February 25, 2021
Jubilant U.S. President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday that North Korea had freed three American prisoners in a goodwill gesture ahead of a planned meeting between the two bombastic leaders.
The three prisoners were Kim Dong-chul, Tony Kim and Kim Hak-song who were held on charges of committing espionage or unidentified “hostile acts” against North Korea.
American newspapers quickly labelled it a diplomatic victory for Mr. Trump who angered allies on Tuesday by announcing that the United States was pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal. Mr. Trump described the deal as “horrible” and called the Iran regime “murderous”.
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With the release of the three prisoners, North Korea has removed a bitter and emotional obstacle ahead of the meeting with President Trump.
The New York Times said the release of the three prisoners, all citizens of Korean descent, “was in some ways the most tangible gesture of sincerity shown by North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, to improve relations with the United States after nearly seven decades of mutual antagonism”.
Mr. Trump said in a tweet that the three were freed following a visit to North Korea by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was in Pyongyang, the North’s capital.