Monday, 19 November, 2018

White House 'Can't Confirm' Validity of North Korea Prisoner Release

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un hold hands before saying good-bye at the end of their historic one-day summit at the Joint Security Area of Panmunjom White House 'Can't Confirm' Validity of North Korea Prisoner Release
Gerardo Duncan | 04 May, 2018, 14:18

But the South Korean government said us troops are still needed, and the Times reported that officials at the Pentagon and other agencies were "rattled" by Trump's directive.

President Donald Trump has ordered the Department of Defense to present plans for a reduction of US troops in South Korea, The New York Times reported Thursday.

The three Korean-Americans are Kim Hak-song, Tony Kim and Kim Dong-chul.

Rudy Giuliani, Trump's new main lawyer, told Fox News Channel that Pyongyang would release them as early as Thursday.

Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in issued the Panmunjom Declaration pleading "no more war on the Korean Peninsula, and thus a new era of peace has begun" following a historic meeting between the leaders in the demilitarized zone between the two countries last week.

Said Nauert: "We've certainly been following their cases for quite some time [but] we can't confirm the validity of those reports at this point".

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The three men have already been moved from a prison camp to a hotel outside Pyongyang, according to sources quoted by Choi Sung-ryong, an activist for South Koreans with family members abducted by the North.

Wang also told Kim that China supports efforts to bring a formal end to the Korean War, which was halted with an armistice, not a peace treaty, and North Korea's "shift of strategic focus to building its economy".

The three are believed to be in a North Korean labor camp.

The two leaders took a private walk together on a bridge after Mr Kim crossed through the checkpoints to South Korea and analysts have been scouring the video footage to see what was said. According to an agreement between both nations, which expires in December, South Korea pays the USA about one billion dollars annually.

Early Thursday, reports emerged that North Korea was to release three USA prisoners at some point in the day. "Stay tuned!" the president wrote.

Kim Hak-song and Kim Sang Duk were both arrested in the North a year ago.

Six South Koreans also remain detained in the North, but their release was not on the agenda of the latest inter-Korean summit. He had been teaching accounting at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology known as PUST.

A fourth American detainee, Otto Warmbier, died in June 2017 - just days after he was repatriated to the US with severe brain damage.

Kim Dong Chol was arrested in October 2015 and six months later was sentenced to 10 years of hard labor.

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