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President Trump welcomes three U.S. citizens released by North Korea

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By Mark Armstrong
President Trump welcomes the three released detainees
President Trump welcomes the three released detainees

President Donald Trump and his wife Melania were the first people to greet three U.S citizens released by North Korea.

The trio landed at a military airbase near Washington early on Thursday. Trump said it was a "special night for three really great people". He also expressed his gratitude to the North Korean leader

"I want to thank Kim Jong Un who really was excellent to these three incredible people. They are really three incredible people.....

"My proudest achievement will be - this is a part of it but - will be when we denuclearise that entire peninsula."

The White House said the three detainees were released as a goodwill gesture ahead of a planned meeting between Kim Jong-un and President Trump. The date and exact location of the encounter are still to be announced.

North Korea released the three - Kim Dong-chul, Kim Sang-duk, also known as Tony Kim, and Kim Hak-song - and handed them over to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Pyongyang on

Wednesday, clearing a major obstacle to the unprecedented summit

North Korean state media said the men, one of whom had been held since 2015 and the other two since last year, were arrested either for subversion or "hostile acts" against the government.

Until now, the only American released by North Korea during Trump's presidency was Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old university student who returned to the United States in a coma last summer after 17 months of captivity and died days later. Warmbier's death escalated U.S.-North Korea tensions,