Americans in North Korea to be released: Trump lawyer

Casey Dawson
May 4, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump added to speculation that North Korea may make a goodwill gesture before his planned summit with leader Kim Jong Un when he tweeted of a possible update soon on the status of three detained Americans.

Just days before, Mr Trump's new national security adviser John Bolton, told Fox News on Sunday: "If North Korea releases the detained Americans before the North-US summit, it will be an opportunity to demonstrate their authenticity".

The US State Department has said it cannot confirm the validity of the reports on the prisoner move.

Mr Trump has said the USA is "fighting very diligently" to win their freedom.

A group of American negotiators who went to the North recently will take them home.

China - North Korea's only major ally and economic benefactor - has supported a series of United Nations sanctions against Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile programmes.

The visit is the first official high-level meeting between Beijing and Pyongyang since the Inter-Korean summit on April 27, where the leaders of the two Koreas have agreed to an ambitious agenda of peace and denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.

The story of Otto Warmbier is perhaps the most infamous instance of an American being detained in North Korea.

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According to news reports, "current and former officials " of the White House have said one thing, while White House spokespersons have said another.

A State Department official could not confirm the reports, but added: "We are working to see U.S. citizens who are detained in North Korea come home as soon as possible".

Ripley identified the three men as Kim Dong Chol, Kim Hak-song and Kim Sang Duk (who is also known as Tony Kim). He taught accounting at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.

"The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens overseas is one of the highest priorities of the Department of State".

He was subsequently sentenced to 15 years hard labor, but then released 15 months later, in June 2017, gravely ill and in a coma.

"I don't think that Trump's military threats have made any direct impact on the behavior of the North Korean leadership", Szalontai said.

Tensions between North Korea and its neigbors as well as the U.S. spiked past year over the Pyongyang's testing of atomic weapons and long-range missiles, including some capable of reaching the United States mainland. "We are working to see USA citizens who are detained in North Korea come home as soon as possible".

"By 2016-2017, the North Korean economy has become so dependent on China and so isolated from other partners that the overall effect of the new (U.N. -sponsored) sanctions relied nearly exclusively on the extent of China's goodwill", Szalontai said.

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