After weeks of speculation, President Trump announced by tweet that a place and date has been set for what would be the first meeting ever between the sitting president of the United States and the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, in Singapore.
The highly anticipated meeting between Kim Jong Un and myself will take place in Singapore on June 12th. We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 10, 2018
Administration officials have been instructed to move forward with plans to convene a historic summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore, according to two people familiar with the plans.
The decision is ultimately up to Trump, who said on Wednesday he would announce the time and location in three days.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump ruled out the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that divides North and South Korea as a potential location for the talks with Kim. Singapore and the DMZ are the only two places Trump has floated in public as potential venues for the meeting.
The Southeast Asian city-state has been the preferred location among US officials, who saw its neutrality as an advantage over locations closer to Pyongyang.
The president is not being shy in his lofty goals for the historic meeting.
The president said his "proudest achievement" will be the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. "This is what people have been waiting for for a long time." WH has yet to formally announce the date and place of @POTUS meeting with Kim Jong-un, but its thought to be Singapore. pic.twitter.com/55aIHSIAaU
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) May 10, 2018
The announcement comes hours after the return of three hostages retrieved by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Mr Trump and First Lady Melania Trump climbed red-carpeted stairs to privately welcome Kim Dong-chul, Kim Hak-song and Tony Kim, along with many senior administration officials.
The President was also accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington.
The three former detainees will be transported to Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre for further evaluation and medical treatment, the White House said.
During the middle-of-the-night welcome ceremony, Mr Trump thanked North Korea’s Kim Jong-un for releasing the three Americans from captivity, saying he believed Mr Kim wanted to reach an agreement on denuclearising the Korean Peninsula.
“I really think [Mr Kim] wants to do something,” Mr Trump said.
He said talks between his administration and the North Korean Government had “never been taken this far”.
The three men were released as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo left Pyongyang after meeting with Mr Kim, amid final plans for a Trump-Kim summit.
orth Korea had accused the three Korean-Americans of anti-state activities. Their arrests were widely seen as politically motivated and had compounded the dire state of relations over the isolated nation’s nuclear weapons.
The DPRK has a long history of “hostage diplomacy”, and the returning of such prisoners has occurred several times in recent years.
Freeing prisoners from North Korea, in recent years, has largely required a high-level emissary of sorts.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the same person negotiating terms of the US-North Korea summit, went to Pyongyang to retrieve Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak-song and Kim Sang Duk, who’s also known as Tony Kim.
Then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper went to retrieve Kenneth Bae along with Matthew Todd Miller, both of whom were accused of “hostile acts.” They were released in November of 2014 after spending months in a hard labor camp.
An outburst on CNN by Dennis Rodman, who slammed Bae, then in prison, after the former basketball star met with Kim Jong Un, helped draw attention to Bae.
The journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee were freed after former President Bill Clinton traveled to Pyongyang in August of 2009 to ask for their release and to collect them.
Other releases have had unhappy endings. The American student Otto Warmbier was released by North Korea in 2017 when he was in a coma. He died shortly after returning home. His family members attended the State of the Union address this year as Trump’s guests.
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