Donald Trump hints of imminent news on Americans detained in North Korea

WASHINGTON (AFP, REUTERS) – US President Donald Trump hinted on Wednesday (May 2) that there would be imminent news about Americans detained in North Korea.

“The past Administration has long been asking for three hostages to be released from a North Korean Labor camp, but to no avail. Stay tuned!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Earlier, an official said the US government is looking into news reports that the three Americans detained in North Korea have been near Pyongyang ahead of a planned summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Wednesday (May 2) there was no immediate confirmation of any change in the detainees‘ status. Trump administration officials have pressed for their release as a show of goodwill by North Korea before the unprecedented US-North Korea summit expected in late May or early June.

Earlier on Wednesday, South Korea‘s Yonhap news agency quoted a South Korean activist as saying North Korea had relocated the three Americans from a labor camp to a hotel on the outskirts of Pyongyang.

Yonhap said Choi Sung Yong, head of a group for families of South Koreans abducted by North Korea, cited a resident in Pyongyang as saying Kim Hak Song, Tony Kim and Kim Dong Chul were moved in early April following instructions from superior authorities.

“We cannot confirm the validity of these reports,” a US State Department spokeswoman said.

“The welfare and safety of US citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities of the Department of State. We are working to see US citizens who are detained in North Korea come home as soon as possible,” she said.

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Randall Brandt, a spokesman for Tony Kim‘s family, said in an “While we are encouraged by overall momentum, the family has no indication of a release and has had no with Tony since Ambassador Yun last June.”

He was referring to Joseph Yun, the State Department‘s former North Korea negotiator, who saw the detainees on a visit to Pyongyang last year.