Thursday 24 May 2018

Trump and Kim set date for 'special moment'

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania after greeting the freed Americans. Photo: AP
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania after greeting the freed Americans. Photo: AP

Ben Riley-Smith

Donald Trump's historic meeting with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, will take place in Singapore on June 12.

The US president broke the news on Twitter, writing: "We will both try to make it a very special moment for world peace!"

Singapore was selected ahead of other locations - such as Mongolia and the demilitarised zone between North and South Korea - because it is seen as a neutral space, with both the US and Pyongyang having embassies there.

It is also close to North Korea - a crucial factor as the regime's Soviet-era aircraft reportedly cannot fly long distances without stopping.

Confirmation of the meeting came as Mr Trump personally welcomed home three American detainees released by North Korea in a middle-of-the-night ceremony broadcast live around the world.

The president climbed aboard a plane carrying Kim Dong-cheol, Kim Hak-seong and Tony Kim just before 3am yesterday as a crowd of hundreds of journalists and soldiers watched on.

The group emerged minutes later, with Mr Trump applauding as the returned men made the peace sign and waved to those cheering below.

The former detainees, who had all been held captive for more than a year, appeared slightly stooped but otherwise in good health as they descended the plane's stairs without help.

Mr Trump thanked the North Korean leader who approved the release, saying he had been "excellent" to the three "incredible men".

"This is a wonderful thing that he released the folks early. That was a big thing. Very important to me," Mr Trump said. Asked why Mr Kim had agreed to the move, Mr Trump said: "I really think he wants to do something [to] bring that country into the real world. I really believe that."

The three men had been held between one and three years. One was charged with spying and the other two, both academics, were accused of "hostile acts". Speaking on the tarmac alongside Mr Trump, Kim Dong-cheol said the release was "like a dream". He said he had got sick while in captivity but had been treated.

The men's return is a diplomatic triumph for Mr Trump.

The move was arranged through Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, who made a second trip to North Korea to broker the deal.

Mr Trump's wife Melania was also there to greet the men, as was Mike Pence, the US vice-president, his wife Karen and Mr Pompeo. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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