President Donald Trump announced Thursday that his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will occur June 12 in Singapore, a high-stakes step in his bid to curb the rogue nation's nuclear weapons program.
Trump tweeted his announcement about seven hours after he welcomed three Americans who had been held in North Korea when they returned to the United States at Joint Base Andrews, a military base in Maryland, early Thursday morning.
The prisoners, freed after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to the North Korean capital, landed at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington, where a giant US flag was suspended between ladders of two fire trucks on the edge of the taxiway.
CNN reported yesterday that USA officials prefer to hold the summit in Singapore, due to its neutral stance and infrastructure, while official confirmation is expected to come in the next few days.
He'd said he favoured holding the meeting at the Demilitarised Zone, the heavily fortified border separating the Koreas, however the island nation was favoured by most of his advisers.
But former spy chief Kim Yong Chul, director of North Korea's United Front Department, said in a toast to Pompeo over lunch in Pyongyang: "We have perfected our nuclear capability".
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The meeting set the stage for Trump to meet with North Korea's leader next month to discuss an end to North Korea's nuclear program.
The announcement came just hours after three Americans who had been held prisoner in North Korea arrived at a USA military base outside Washington, having been released by Kim as a gesture ahead of the summit.
Warmbier's family is suing North Korea, saying their son, who suffered from severe brain damage, was "brutally tortured and murdered" by the country.
After Trump's remarks, the three men boarded a bus for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where they are to be evaluated and receive medical treatment before being reunited with their families. But he called the North Korean leader "nice" for letting them go.
"We hope this meeting will advance prospects for peace in the Korean Peninsula", Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. "It was sort of understood that we'd be able to get these three terrific people during the meeting and bring them home after the meeting", Trump said.
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"We should treat the summit as an opening of a longer process of negotiations with North Korea", said Adam Mount, a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists.
Vice President Mike Pence says North Korea has been dealing with the U.S. "I said, 'Welcome home.' He said, 'God bless America, '" Hook said.
But not everyone was pleased with Trump's diplomatic overtures to North Korea.
"We are really excited that he's coming back, safely", dean of Mission University, Seonmook Shin, told CBS2 Wednesday.
Singapore was favoured by USA officials because of its neutrality and infrastructure. "Kim Jong-un reached a satisfactory consensus on the issues discussed with the USA state secretary", the KCNA said.
White House spokesman Raj Shah said the country has relationships with both the USA and North Korea, meaning both presidents' security - and a sense of neutrality - can be assured.
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Pence also told CBS he spoke Wednesday with the family of Otto Warmbier, an American detainee who died past year shortly after his release from North Korean captivity.