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Cheers echoed in the darkness as President Trump escorted three Americans newly freed by North Korea. Their release came ahead of the planned summit between Kim Jong Un and Trump, with the North's nuclear program on the table. Yamiche Alcindor reports on the homecoming.
From the Middle East to North Korea. President Trump announced today that his summit with Kim Jong-un is set for Singapore on June 12. In a tweet, he said, "We will both try to make it a very special moment for world peace."
The city-state of Singapore is a regional commercial hub in Southeast Asia. And it has close ties to the United States and diplomatic relations with North Korea.
The summit announcement came hours after Mr. Trump welcomed home three Americans who had been imprisoned in North Korea.
White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor reports on the homecoming.
Cheers echoed in the pre-dawn dark at Joint Base Andrews, as President Trump brought out the newly freed Americans. He'd met briefly with them on the plane, then hailed their release, and the welcome.
President Donald Trump:
It's very early in the morning. I think you probably broke the all time in history television rating for 3:00 in the morning. That, I would say.
The former captives flew home with Secretary of State Pompeo after his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang. Their release came ahead of the planned summit between Kim and President Trump, with the North's nuclear program on the table.
I really think he wants to do something. I think he did this because I really think he wants to do something and bring their country into the real world.
North Korean state TV said the release followed — quote — "an official suggestion" from the Trump administration. The three men are all Korean-Americans. Tony Kim and Kim Hak-song were detained in April and May of 2017. Kim Dong Chul had been held since 2015.
All were imprisoned for crimes that include espionage and — quote — "hostile acts" against North Korea. American officials say the charges were groundless. The president today praised Kim's treatment of the men.
I want to thank Kim Jong-un, who really was excellent to these three incredible people.
Their own descriptions of captivity were less glowing.
How were you treated?
Kim Dong Chul (through translator):
Yes, we were treated in many different ways. For me, I had to do a lot of labor, but when I got sick, I was also treated by them.
Later, Vice President Pence said at least one had evidently been kept confined in the dark.
One of the detainees asked to go outside the plane because he hadn't seen daylight in a very long time.
U.S. lawmakers applauded their release, but Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer warned against making too much of it.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.:
This is not some great give on North Korea's part. And under no circumstances should American citizens be viewed as bargaining chips by foreign capitals.
In their own statement, the three men thanked the U.S. government, President Trump and Secretary Pompeo. They were taken to Walter Reed Military Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, for evaluation and treatment.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Yamiche Alcindor.
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