The three remaining Americans held hostage in North Korea may be released as early as Friday, according to multiple reports — before President Trump even meets with Kim Jong-un.
Barring any last-minute holdups, administration officials were hailing it as a significant goodwill gesture that will “factor into future interactions” between the two nations.
Pyongyang has held all three — one since 2015, the others since 2017 — on trumped-up charges as part of its efforts to gather bargaining chips for use in discussions over its nuclear program.
Their release early on stands in marked contrast with the nuclear negotiations with Iran — where the Obama administration refused to make the issue of detained Americans a precondition of talks, and instead sent pallets of cash totaling billions to win their release only after reaching a nuke deal.
Oh: And Iran has seized five more Americans since the deal was concluded, imposing long sentences on bogus charges.
Trump doesn’t appear to be taking this naive route. National Security Adviser John Bolton says the administration will pattern North Korea negotiations on Libya, which had to fully dismantle its nuclear program before receiving any US concessions in return.
Which is the right way to handle such fraught issues. North Korea, after all, has successfully played too many US presidents.
Nor should anyone forget Otto Warmbier, who died last June just days after being released by Pyongyang — in a still-unexplained vegetative state — after 17 months of captivity.
Getting to a good deal with Kim is no sure thing. But it looks like Team Trump at least has its priorities straight.
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