Joint Base Andrews, MD -
When three Americans newly freed from detention in North Korea arrived at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland early Thursday, President Donald Trump was there to greet them, as promised.
The president was joined by first lady Melania Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
A motorcade was waiting to take the three Korean-American detainees -- Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak Song and Tony Kim -- to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for physical examinations.
When the plane arrived from Alaska, where it stopped Wednesday after leaving North Korea, Trump and the first lady climbed aboard to greet the men and stayed there for several minutes.
President Donald Trump tweeted that he “will be there to greet” the three Americans freed from North Korea when they land at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington early Thursday morning.
Looking forward to greeting the Hostages (no longer) at 2:00 A.M.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 9, 2018
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders referred to North Korea's leader in a statement, saying Trump “appreciates leader Kim Jong Un’s action to release these American citizens, and views this as a positive gesture of goodwill.”
She added, “The three Americans appear to be in good condition and were all able to walk on the plane without assistance.”
North Korea had accused the detainees of anti-state activities. Their arrests were widely seen as politically motivated and compounded the dire state of U.S.-North Korea relations over the isolated nation’s nuclear weapons.
The three had been held for periods ranging between one and two years. They were the latest in a series of Americans who have been detained in North Korea in recent years for seemingly minor offenses.
“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 three said in an earlier statement released by the State Department.
The three Americans and Pompeo flew on separate government planes because they were receiving checkups during the flight from Japan and the larger plane was better equipped to accommodate the medical equipment.
I am pleased to inform you that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in the air and on his way back from North Korea with the 3 wonderful gentlemen that everyone is looking so forward to meeting. They seem to be in good health. Also, good meeting with Kim Jong Un. Date & Place set.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 9, 2018
A U.S. official told Reuters that Singapore appears to be the likely meeting location for the upcoming summit between Trump and Kim.