No orders to pull troops from Korean Peninsula, posture same - Pentagon

AP PROVIDES ACCESS TO THIS PUBLICLY DISTRIBUTED HANDOUT

AP PROVIDES ACCESS TO THIS PUBLICLY DISTRIBUTED HANDOUT

And while a planned meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump has led some to suggest sanctions relief may emerge in the future, one White House official this week ruled out any such early concessions. We follow the developments here.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Wednesday (May 2) there was no immediate confirmation of any change in the detainees' status.

"We've got Kim Jong-un impressed enough to be releasing three prisoners today", Giuliani told Fox & Friends this morning, "and I've got to go there, and Jay Sekulow, and the [unintelligible], we've got to go there and prepare him for this silly deposition?" "Stay tuned!" Trump wrote on Twitter.

Days before meeting with Moon last Friday, Kim announced he would suspend North Korea's nuclear programme and focus its resources on rebuilding its economy, although many observers remain sceptical about whether he will fulfil these commitments.

Kim Dong Chul, a South Korea-born US citizen and former Virginia resident, was sentenced in April 2016 to 10 years in prison with hard labor after being convicted of espionage.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is believed to have discussed the prisoners' release during a secret meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un over the Easter weekend in Pyongyang.

But it's expected the two could have discussed last week's inter-Korean summit as well as China's role in North Korea's move towards denuclearization and the process of putting a formal end to the Korean War by drafting a permanent peace treaty.

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Two of the three hostages were detained in 2017, after Trump had assumed office.

The NSC official gave the reassurance to South Korea's visiting top security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, who is in Washington for talks on the upcoming U.S.

The three are Korean-American missionary Kim Dong Chul; Kim Sang-duk, who spent a month teaching at the foreign-funded Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) before he was arrested in 2017, and Kim Hak Song, who also taught at PUST.

A State Department official could not confirm the reports, but added: "We are working to see USA citizens who are detained in North Korea come home as soon as possible".

Wang expressed hope that the highly-anticipated dialogue with the United States leads to substantial progress. In Paju, a city just south of the North Korean border, pastors held an all-night vigil and South Korean Christian politicians also fasted and prayed.

In particular, they say the system's advanced radar, which can see into China, is designed at reducing the effectiveness of that country's military capabilities - a view Beijing shares.

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