Trump eyes breakthrough after NKorea frees Americans


WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump celebrated the return today of three Americans freed by North Korea and suggested their release heralded a potential breakthrough toward the goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

With the former detainees by his side on a dark air base tarmac, Trump said during a made-for-TV ceremony it was a "great honor" to welcome the men back to the U.S., but he added "the true honor is going to be if we have a victory in getting rid of nuclear weapons."

Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, other top officials and first lady Melania joined the president in the highly scripted celebration in the wee hours this morning at Joint Base Andrews near Washington. The men – Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak Song and Tony Kim – had been released Wednesday amid a warming of relations between the longtime adversaries.

Trump thanked North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for releasing the Americans and said he believes Kim wants to reach an agreement on denuclearization at their upcoming summit. "I really think he wants to do something," the president said.

Pence said the administration believes North Korea "has taken steps that indicate this may be an opportunity for a breakthrough" in relations with the U.S.

"In this moment the regime in North Korea has been dealing, as far as we can see, in good faith," he told NBC News.

Singapore has emerged as the likely host of the U.S.-North Korean summit, late this month or in early June, as Trump presses his highest-stakes foreign policy effort yet.

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