Washington (AFP) – Donald Trump’s legal team fueled speculation Thursday about the “imminent” release of three Americans detained in North Korea, but the White House sounded a note of caution.
Trump lawyers Jay Sekulow and Rudy Giuliani both touted the impending release of Kim Hak-song, Kim Sang-duk and Kim Dong-chul, in media appearances.
“We got Kim Jong Un impressed enough to be releasing three prisoners today,” Giuliani told a pro-Trump program on Fox News.
Sekulow tweeted that the “reported release” of the hostages was “imminent,” echoing a sentiment from Trump himself 24 hours earlier.
But amid raised hopes about the fate of the men, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said “we can’t confirm the validity of any of the reports currently out about their release.”
Sanders also indicated that their exit from North Korea could set the tone for a much vaunted summit between Kim Jong Un and Trump.
“We certainly would see this as a sign of good will if North Korea were to release the three Americans ahead of discussions between President Trump and Kim Jong Un,” she said.
The release would be a major victory for Trump and help scotch suggestions that he is offering Kim a path in from the diplomatic wilderness without getting anything in return.
For years the United States have been demanding North Korea move to scrap its nuclear weapons in return for talks on sanctions being lifted.