However, experts told VOA there is a gap between the United States and North Korea regarding the steps toward denuclearization, with North Korea continues to press for a phased and incremental approach. "Me, I had to do a lot of labor, but when I got sick, I was also treated by them".
The men released a statement through the State Department: "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".
In a tweet last week, Trump hinted at their impending release, saying that "the past Administration has always been asking for three hostages to be released from a North Korean Labor camp, but to no avail".
The Trump administration insists it will maintain its campaign of "maximum pressure" on the North until Kim has shown "substantial dismantlement" of his nuclear arsenal. The reclusive Kim has traveled twice in the past two months to China to consult with Xi, notably in each case just before hosting a visit by Mike Pompeo, the new USA secretary of state. He was accused of unspecified 'hostile acts.
"The third detainee, 60-something Kim Dong Chul, of Fairfax, Va., was sentenced to 10 years in prison and hard labor in April 2016".
Exchanging prisoners for an opening with the West has been a common tactic of Pyongyang over the years.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on television Friday that he is open to holding talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un only if that would lead to the settlement of the abduction issue.
Trump is providing details for the first time about the history-making meeting between a sitting American president and the leader of North Korea over denuclearization.
The president has hailed the thawing in relations as a diplomatic breakthrough and chalked it up to his hardline stand with Pyongyang. It also, as National Security Adviser John Bolton spelled out after Trump's speech, sent a message to North Korea that "the United States will not accept inadequate deals".
Trump has touted the expected meeting, saying expects it to be a success.
"We wish these Americans and their families the best, as they reconnect after a very hard time apart", Pompeo said.
Rumors had swirled for days around the possibility North Korea might release the three Americans ahead of the summit, especially once Pompeo's visit to Pyongyang was revealed.
Journalists asked Pompeo what such a denuclearization would look like and if it meant carrying out inspections in North Korean nuclear plants.
If North Korea rejects the reported USA insistence on quick denuclearization - complete, verifiable and irreversible - Trump should return to Washington and amp up the maximum pressure campaign focused on hurting Kim where he cares most: North Korea's creaking economy, which he's vowed to improve.