North Korea has released three American prisoners ahead of an expected meeting between Kim Jong-UN and President Trump.
The US president announced in a tweet that the men – two of whom are known to be Christians - had been freed.
Mr Trump said he would greet the men in person when they return with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has been in Pyongyang to arrange planned talks between the two leaders.
“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,” President Trump tweeted on 9 May.
The fate of the three Korean-Americans had been among a number of delicate issues in the approach to the first-ever meeting of US and North Korean leaders.
Their release is thought to be a “positive gesture of goodwill” ahead of the planned summit, the White House said. The meeting is said to be planned for late May or early June.
The three newly released prisoners are Kim Dong-chul, a pastor in his early 60s who has been serving 10 years hard labour since being detained in 2015 on spying charges; Kim Sang-duk, also known as Tony Kim, who spent a month teaching at the foreign-funded Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) before he was arrested in 2017 and Kim Hak-song, who describes himself as a Christian, and who also taught at PUST.
PUST, the country's only privately-run academic institution, is known for its Christian affiliation, according to Reuters.
North Korean state media says the three men were detained either for subversion or committing “hostile acts” against the government.
Around 120,000 people are believed to be imprisoned in North Korea without due process, according to the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK).
PICTURE: US citizens released from N. Korea Shown is an image from U.S. President Donald Trump's Tweeter account on May 9, 2018 ©PA