THREE Americans detained in North Korea for more than a year are on their way back to the US with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Donald Trump has announced.

The move is the latest sign of improving relations between the two long-time adversaries.

Trump said on Twitter that Pompeo is “in the air” and was with “the three wonderful gentlemen that everyone is looking so forward to meeting”.

In a US cabinet meeting, Trump said he “appreciates” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s decision to release the detainees ahead of the leaders’ planned summit. He said he is looking forward to the meeting and believes it is going to be a great thing for North Korea.

Trump, who had been hinting about an imminent release, said he would greet Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak Song and Tony Kim at Andrews Air Force Base at 2am today (7am BST).

The president also ruled out the Korean Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) for his upcoming summit with the North Korean leader.

He had said he was interested in holding the historic meeting on the heavily fortified border separating North and South Korea.

He also said that the DMZ was appealing “because you’re there” and any celebration would be memorable if the talks proved successful. But he ruled that option out, saying the details of the meeting will be announced in the next two or three days.

The meeting is expected to be held in late May or early June.

A number of other countries have also been considered as a venue, including Singapore.

The release of the detainees came as Pompeo visited North Korea on Wednesday to finalise plans for a historic summit between Trump and the North’s leader, Kim.

Trump said on Twitter that there had been a “good meeting with Kim Jong Un”, adding: “Date & Place set.”

North Korea had accused Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak Song and Tony Kim, all Korean-Americans, of anti-state activities, but their arrests were widely seen as politically motivated and had compounded the dire state of relations over the isolated nation’s nuclear weapons.