President Trump welcomes 3 Americans freed by North Korea
Posted May 10, 2018 2:12 a.m. EDT
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Maryland (CNN) — Under an American flag and dark night sky, US President Donald Trump personally welcomed home three American detainees Thursday morning after they were released from North Korea.
The Americans -- Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak-song and Kim Sang Duk, also known as Tony Kim -- were freed Wednesday while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on a visit to the North Korean capital of Pyongyang to discuss President Trump's upcoming summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
No family members or friends of the three freed Americans were on hand for their arrival Thursday due to protocol reasons, an official told CNN, adding the men had to first debrief intelligence officials before heading to their homes.
After their meeting with Trump, the three men will go to Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland for further evaluation and medical treatment, according to White House Press Secretary Lindsay Walters.
Trump departed the White House with First Lady Melania Trump to Joint Base Andrews Air Force Base in the early hours of Thursday, after tweeting Wednesday that he would be greeting the detainees.
President Trump is marking the men's arrival as a major milestone ahead of his upcoming historic summit with Kim Jong Un.
CNN reported Wednesday that administration officials have been instructed to move forward with plans to convene that meeting in Singapore, according to two people familiar with the plans.
The White House Wednesday said they viewed the action to release the Americans as a "gesture of good will."
The three men on Wednesday issued a joint statement thanking Trump saying, "We would like to express our deep appreciation to the United States government, President Trump, Secretary Pompeo, and the people of the United States for bringing us home," the trio said in the statement which the State Department supplied to journalists traveling with Pompeo.
Vice President Pence and his wife Karen Pence were also on hand to welcome the three men home.