The three men released from North Korea into the custody of United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo put out a joint statement as they traveled home to the U.S.
Kim Hak Song, Kim Dong Cul, and Kim Sang-Duk said, according to Reuters:
We would like to express our deep appreciation to the United States government, President Trump, Secretary Pompeo, and the people of the United States for bringing us home. We thank God, and all our families and friends who prayed for us and for our return. God Bless America, the greatest nation in the world.
Pompeo gave a briefing to reporters traveling with him on the trip back to the U.S. from North Korea. Asked if there were any glitches during the 13-hour stay, Pompeo said, “It was a long day. But there were no moments where I felt like we were going to be anything but successful in the day.”
Asked about what may have ultimately led Kim to release the prisoners, Pompeo replied, “I think that Chairman Kim is trying to set good conditions for the summit, right. I think we’re – I think we are having good conversations, productive conversations. And so I think the work that President Trump has done to put us in this place made this possible.”
Another reporter asked Pompeo what he said to the prisoners upon receiving them. Pompeo said, “I welcomed them back. Although we’re not quite back home yet, I welcomed them back. They were happy to be with us on this plane, to be sure.”
“We have the three Americans on the plane, which is incredibly exciting. They seem to be in good health. The doctors are with them now, but all indications are at this point that their health is as good as could be given that they’ve been held,” said Pompeo. “They all walked up the stairs themselves, with their own power, so good enough to do that.” He added that they should soon have a more complete readout of the three men’s health. The plane that the group later met up with in Japan was expected to have “more robust medical capabilities” to attend to the three.
The plane carrying Pompeo and the released prisoners landed in Alaska late Wednesday before continuing on to Washington, DC.
Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana