North Korea releases three American prisoners in "gesture of goodwill"

Donald Trump says the three men "seem to be in good health"

North Korea releases three American prisoners in "gesture of goodwill"

Kim Jong Un. Picture by: AP/Press Association Images

Updated 19.15

Donald Trump has announced that three Americans detained by North Korea are on their way home.

The US President has tweeted that the men were on a flight back to the US with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

It was announced yesterday that Mr Pompeo was visiting North Korea for the second time, as preparations continue for the upcoming summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un.

The three prisoners appear to be 'in good health', President Trump said, despite being imprisoned for alleged 'hostile acts'.

President Trump also said he would be "there to greet" the three men when they arrive in the US in the early hours of Thursday morning local time.

A U.S. government plane departs from Yokota U.S. Airbase on the outskirts of Tokyo, Wednesday, May 9, 2018. Three Americans detained in North Korea for more than a year are on their way back to the U.S. with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Picture by: Eugene Hoshiko/AP/Press Association Images

Separately, the US President told reporters at the White House that the date and location of the planned summit with North Korea would be announced "within three days".

He indicated it would not take place at the demilitarised zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea.

He added: "A lot of things can happen. A lot of good things can happen, a lot of bad things can happen. 

"I believe that we have — both sides want to negotiate a deal. I think it’s going to be a very successful deal. I think we have a really good shot at making it successful." 

"Positive gesture of goodwill"

In a statement about the prisoner release, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said: "President Trump appreciates leader Kim Jong Un’s action to release these American citizens, and views this as a positive gesture of goodwill. 

"The three Americans appear to be in good condition and were all able to walk on the plane without assistance. All Americans look forward to welcoming them home and to seeing them reunited with their loved ones."

The three US citizens - Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak Song and Tony Kim - had been accused by North Korea of anti-state activities.

It comes less than a year after North Korea released US student Otto Warmbier, who returned to the US in a coma and died shortly after.

There has been a significant easing of tensions in the Korean peninsula in recent weeks, including the recent denuclearisation pledge signed by the leaders of the North and South.

It emerged yesterday that Kim Jong Un had made his second unannounced visit to China, following a similar visit earlier this year.