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US President Donald Trump hosts a bilateral meeting with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate
Image: Reuters/K. Lamarque

US pushes for release of Americans in North Korea

April 19, 2018

US President Donald Trump said there was a "good chance" of securing the release of Americans held as prisoners in North Korea. CIA Director Mike Pompeo also raised the issue during his secret talks with Kim Jong Un.


Talks are under way to secure the release of three Americans held as prisoners in North Korea, US President Donald Trump told reporters on Wednesday.

"We are likewise fighting very diligently to get the three American citizens back. I think there's a good chance of doing it. We're having very good dialogue," Trump said during a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The three remain imprisoned in North Korea, with authorities accusing two of them of "hostile acts." The charge against the third is not known.

Read moreNorth Korea: Prisoner issue looms large after Mike Pompeo's secret trip

Pompeo raises issue with Kim Jong Un

The US has been pushing for their release. A senior administration official said Trump's Secretary of State nominee and CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who visited Pyongyang secretly over the Easter weekend, raised the issue in his talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump did not answer directly when asked if he intends to meet Kim at their proposed summit if the Americans are still being detained.

The US president said he hoped his meeting with Kim would be a success, but that he would walk out if it was not.

"If we don't think it's going to be successful ... we won't have it," Trump said, adding: "If the meeting, when I'm there is not fruitful, I will respectfully leave the meeting."

Read moreIs a Trump-Kim meeting a recipe for disaster? Or so crazy it just might work?

Japanese abductees

Trump promised the Japanese prime minister to raise with Kim the issue of Japanese abducted by North Korea.

"We will work very, very hard on that issue and we will try to bring those folks home," Trump said.

Pyongyang has acknowledged abducting 13 Japanese, while Tokyo maintains North Korea abducted 17 of its citizens. North Korea says that while five of the abductees have been returned to Japan, eight others have died. It denies the remaining four entered its territory.

ap/rc (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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