President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on his way to Pyongyang to prepare for Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and that it would be a “great thing” if three American detainees were also released, Reuters reported.
Trump said Pompeo, making his second visit to North Korea in less than six weeks, was expected to arrive “very shortly” and that the two countries have already agreed on a date and location for the unprecedented summit.
“At this very moment, Secretary Pompeo is on his way to North Korea in preparation for my upcoming meeting with Kim Jong Un,” Trump said.
“Plans are being made, relationships are building,” Trump said. “Hopefully, a deal will happen. And with the help of China, South Korea and Japan, a future of great prosperity and security can be achieved for everyone.”
Pompeo made a secret visit to North Korea over the Easter weekend, becoming the first U.S. official known to have met Kim, to lay the groundwork for the planned summit. The meeting occurred before Pompeo’s nomination as secretary of state had been confirmed.
Asked whether the three Americans held in North Korea would be freed, Trump told reporters: “We’ll all soon be finding out. We’ll soon be finding out. It would be a great thing if they are.”
Pompeo’s visit raised the prospects that the three Korean-American detainees - Kim Hak-song, Tony Kim and Kim Dong-chul – could be turned over to him.
Their release could signal an effort by Kim to set a more positive tone for the summit following his recent pledge to suspend missile tests and shut Pyongyang’s nuclear bomb test site.
While Kim would be giving up the last of his remaining American prisoners, whom North Korea has often used in the past as bargaining chips with the United States, a release could also be aimed at pressuring Trump to make concessions of his own in his bid to get Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear arsenal.