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President Trump said he was hopeful that three UCLA basketball players detained in China will be released and sent home.
"I had a great conversation with [Chinese] President Xi [Jinping]," Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One Tuesday afternoon, just as his plane was about to take off from Manila, the final leg of his 12-day trip to Asia. "What they did was unfortunate. You know, you're talking about very long prison sentences. They do not play games."
Xi "was terrific, and they're working on it right now," Trump continued. "And hopefully everything is going to work out."
Trump called it "a very, very rough situation" that "was not something that should have happened."
The White House had previously confirmed that Trump, while visiting Beijing last week, asked Xi to help resolve the case quickly. The players — LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hillare — are being held at a hotel in Hangzhou, accused of shoplifting.
1:45 a.m.: This post was updated to include more expansive comments from President Trump.
This post was originally published at 12:07 a.m.