President Donald Trump welcomed three Americans, who had been held as prisoners in North Korea, back home on Thursday, thanking its leader, Kim Jong Un, for their release and sounding upbeat about a planned U.S.-North Korea summit.
The former prisoners, freed after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Pyongyang for a second meeting with Kim in less than six weeks, landed at around 2:40 a.m. at Joint Base Andrews near Washington.
Trump and his wife, Melania, boarded the plane for about five minutes before the three men stepped out, shaking hands with the president and waving to media and military personnel.
“Frankly, we didn’t think it was going to happen and it did,” Trump said after thanking Kim for releasing the men.
“We’re starting off on a new footing. This is a wonderful thing that he released the folks early.”
Trump said he believed Kim wanted to bring North Korea “into the real world” and had high hopes for their planned meeting, which would be the first between a serving U.S. president and a North Korean leader.
“I think we have a very good chance of doing something very meaningful,” Trump said. “My proudest achievement will be —this is part of it—when we denuclearize that entire peninsula.”