The Latest: NK detainees express 'deep appreciation' to US

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers remarks with Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray at the State Department, Monday, May 7, 2018 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
FILE - This combination of two file photos shows U.S. President Donald Trump, left, speaking during a roundtable discussion on tax cuts in Cleveland, Ohio, May 5, 2018 and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, talking with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Panmunjom, South Korea, April 27, 2018. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in North Korea on Wednesday, May 9, 2018, to finalize details of a planned summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, Korea Summit Press Pool via AP, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 29, 2017 file photo, people walk by a TV news program reporting North Korea's missile launch, in Tokyo, Japan. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in North Korea on Wednesday, May 9, 2018, to finalize details of a planned summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un. On Aug. 29, 2017, an intermediate-range North Korean missile flies over Japan and plunges into the northern Pacific. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi, File)

WASHINGTON — The Latest on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the release of three Americans from North Korea (all times local):

7:20 p.m.

The three American detainees freed by North Korea say they would like to express their "deep appreciation" to the United States government, President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the American people "for bringing us home."

They add, "We thank God, and all our families and friends who prayed for us and for our return."

The State Department released the statement as the former detainees returned to American soil.

Pompeo had been in North Korea to finalize details of a summit planned between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The three men boarded Pompeo's plane on their own. They were transferred in Japan to another plane for the trip to Joint Base Andrews outside Washington. Trump plans to greet them when they land.

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6:30 p.m.

North Korea's state-run media is calling U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit a successful one and — for the first time — mentioning plans for the two countries' leaders to hold a summit.

A report early Thursday by North Korea's official news agency, KCNA, says Pompeo and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un held "in-depth" discussions of the practical matters involved in holding the "historic meeting." It says the two reached a "satisfactory consensus," but is not giving further details.

The report also refers to the release of three Americans who headed home Wednesday with Pompeo. It says Kim decided to grant them amnesty at the "official suggestion" of the U.S. president.

Pyongyang has been exceptionally cautious about its public framing of Kim's recent diplomatic moves.

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4:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump is set to greet three Americans who were detained in North Korea when they return to the U.S. early Thursday.

Trump is promising "quite a scene" at a middle-of-the-night arrival ceremony outside Washington. Their release is the latest sign of improving relations between two longtime adversaries as they prepare for a historic summit.

The detainees were released after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited North Korea on Wednesday to finalize plans for a summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un, the North's leader.

Trump has ruled out the Korean demilitarized zone as a site for the summit, and promises the summit's date and place would be announced within the next three days.

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4 p.m.

Three Americans who had been detained by North Korea are on their way back to the United States.

Their release was only sealed about an hour before the top U.S. diplomat left Pyongyang.

The three men — Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak Song and Tony Kim — walked on their own from a van and onto the plane of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the end of his daylong visit to North Korea.

After meeting leader Kim Jong Un, Pompeo had given a fingers-crossed sign when asked if there was good news. A North Korean emissary came to the hotel shortly after to say the detainees were being freed.

The three men finally left custody at 7:45 p.m. local time, and by 8:42 p.m. they were flying home.

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12:33 p.m.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says he's glad to see three detained Americans returning home from North Korea. At the same time, he is warning the Trump administration not to use Americans being held abroad as bargaining chips in negotiations.

The New York Democrat says he hopes President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are clear in their talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and other countries that "no regime has the right to hold Americans in captivity without cause."

He added that "under no circumstances should Americans be viewed as bargaining chips."

Schumer made the remarks Wednesday in the Senate.

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11:55 a.m.

President Donald Trump is ruling out the Korean Demilitarized Zone for his upcoming summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump had said he was interested in holding the historic meeting on the heavily fortified border separating North and South Korea. He had said the DMZ was appealing "because you're there" and any celebration would be memorable if the talks proved successful.

But he ruled that option out Wednesday as he kicked off a Cabinet meeting at the White House.

Trump said details of the Kim meeting will be announced in the next two or three days. The meeting is expected to be held in late May or early June.

A number of other countries have also been considered, including Singapore.

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11:50 a.m.

President Donald Trump is hailing the release of three Americans detained in North Korea as they make their way back home.

Trump says as he kicks off a Cabinet meeting at the White House that he "appreciates" North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's decision to release the detainees ahead of the leaders' planned summit.

He says he's looking forward to the meeting and believes it's going to be a great thing for North Korea.

Trump broke the news on Twitter earlier Wednesday that the detainees were on their way back to the U.S. with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Trump said he would be greeting them at Andrews Air Force Base at 2 a.m. Thursday.

He says of the arrival: "I think it will be a very special time."

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10:53 a.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is welcoming North Korea's release of three Americans as a hopeful sign ahead of President Donald Trump's meeting with leader Kim Jong Un.

The Kentucky Republican says he's hopeful that "by approaching our ongoing negotiations with clear eyes, we can build on this progress and pursue a verifiable agreement to dismantle North Korea's nuclear arms."

McConnell spoke Wednesday as he opened the Senate.

Earlier in the day, Trump announced that the three detainees were on their way back to the United States with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Pompeo was briefly in the country this week making plans for the leaders' upcoming summit.

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9:40 a.m.

The White House says President Donald Trump views North Korea's release of three American citizens "as a positive gesture of goodwill."

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the three Americans "appear to be in good condition" and says they were "able to walk on the plane without assistance."

Trump announced Wednesday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on his way back from North Korea with the three American detainees.

Sanders says, "All Americans look forward to welcoming them home and to seeing them reunited with their loved ones."

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9:39 a.m.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he had a "good, lengthy" conversation with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un and that a date and time for a summit with President Donald Trump has been set.

After departing Pyongyang Wednesday, Pompeo said the summit details will be announced "in the next handful of days." He said the two sides need to coordinate in the days ahead on setting conditions for a successful meeting.

Pompeo says the three American detainees freed as a goodwill gesture seem to be in good health "given all they have been through."

Pompeo was on the ground in North Korea for 13 hours. That included a 90-minute meeting with Kim — their second meeting in little more than a month.

Pompeo spoke to reporters during a stop-over in Japan on his way back to the U.S.

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9:39 a.m.

Vice President Mike Pence says the U.S. "will not let off the pressure" on North Korea "until we achieve full denuclearization."

Pence says President Donald Trump's "tough minded diplomacy" has led to the release of three Americans detained in North Korea.

Trump announced Wednesday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was returning from North Korea with the three Americans.

Pence says Pompeo did a "remarkable job" overseeing their release and calls it a "proud and memorable moment for America."

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9:35 a.m.

A U.S. official says that "substantial progress" has been made on plans for a U.S.-North Korean leadership summit during Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit to Pyongyang.

While Pompeo met with top North Korean leaders, including Kim Jong Un, lower-level officials from the two countries were planning the nuts-and-bolts logistics for a meeting between Kim and President Donald Trump.

The U.S. official, who was involved in those talks, said the two sides would meet once again to finalize the details.

No specifics were offered although other officials said Singapore is emerging as the most likely venue. The unprecedented meeting has been slated for this month or early June.

Before seeing Kim, Pompeo met twice with the head of the North's United Front department that oversees relations between North and South Korea.

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9:20 a.m.

The family of one of the Americans freed from North Korea is expressing gratitude for his release.

The family of 59-year-old Tony Kim is thanking "all of those who have worked toward and contributed to his return home." In a statement, the family credited President Donald Trump for engaging directly with North Korea.

"Mostly, we thank God for Tony's safe return," the statement said. It added that the family appreciates "the support and prayers of friends and even strangers during this challenging year."

The statement was forwarded to The Associated Press by Randall Brandt, a spokesman for the family, shortly after Trump announced Wednesday that three Americans were coming home.

The statement urged people to "continue to pray for the people of North Korea and for the release of all who are still being held."

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8:40 a.m.

President Donald Trump says Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is on his way back from North Korea with three American detainees, saying they "seem to be in good health."

Trump made the announcement on Twitter Wednesday, saying "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."

Trump added that Pompeo had a "good meeting" with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump is planning a historic summit with the North Korean leader.

In another Tweet, Trump said Pompeo and the detainees will be landing at Andrews Air Force Base at 2 a.m. Thursday. He says "I will be there to greet them. Very exciting!"

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1:52 a.m.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in North Korea to finalize plans for a historic summit between President Donald Trump and the North's leader, Kim Jong Un.

U.S. officials say Pompeo will also be pressing North Korea for the release of three detained American citizens, whose imminent release Trump has been hinting at.

The trip is Pompeo's second to North Korea this year. It had not been publicly disclosed when he flew out of Washington under cover of darkness late Monday aboard an Air Force 757.

Trump announced the mission Tuesday afternoon as he laid out the case for withdrawing from a landmark nuclear deal with Iran, another bitter U.S. adversary.

When the flight arrived Wednesday morning in Pyongyang, North Korean officials were on hand to greet Pompeo.

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