WASHINGTON, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence welcomed North Korea's release of three American detainees but vowed not to ease pressure on the regime until it fully abandons its nuclear weapons program

In a statement, Pence hailed President Donald Trump's "tough minded diplomacy' for getting the captives released ahead of his planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

"While our administration is encouraged that North Korea freed these innocent hostages, we will not let off the pressure until we achieve full denuclearization," the vice president said.

"Our Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did a remarkable job overseeing the release of Kim Dong Chul, Tony Kim, and Kim Hak Song -- and to them I say: safe travels and welcome home. This is a proud and memorable moment for America," he added.

Trump announced the prisoners' release in a tweet, saying they seemed to be in good health and that he would be welcoming them upon their arrival at Andrews Air Force Base early Thursday.

Trump also said Pompeo had a "good meeting" with the North Korean leader and a date and place for their summit had been set.

Source: Yonhap News Agency