US president Donald Trump has hinted there may soon be an update on the three Americans being held captive in North Korea.
He tweeted on Wednesday: “As everybody is aware, the past Administration has long been asking for three hostages to be released from a North Korean Labor camp, but to no avail. Stay tuned!”
The president is preparing for a potential summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, tentatively scheduled for May or early June.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Mr Kim discussed the Americans last month when Mr Pompeo visited North Korea.
Mr Trump has said the US is working hard to win the Americans’ freedom.
National security adviser John Bolton said the release of the Americans would be a “demonstration of their sincerity” in the lead-up to the summit.
Who are the detained Americans?
1. Kim Dong Chul, a South Korean-born US citizen, has been held the longest.
The former Virginia resident was sentenced in April 2016 to 10 years in prison with hard labour after being convicted of espionage.
He reportedly ran a trade and hotel service company in Rason, a special economic zone on North Korea’s border with Russia.
2. Kim Hak Song worked in agricultural development at an experimental farm run by the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.
The university is the only privately funded college in North Korea and was founded in 2010 with donations from Christian groups.
He was detained last May for alleged anti-state activities.
3. Tony Kim, who also uses the name Kim Sang-duk, was detained a year ago at the Pyongyang airport.
He taught accounting at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.
He was accused of committing unspecified criminal acts intended to overthrow the government.