U.S. President Donald Trump confirmed CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s meeting this month with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after numerous outlets reported on the clandestine trip.
The Washington Post on Tuesday said that Pompeo traveled to North Korea over Easter weekend as an envoy for Trump ahead of the two leaders planned summit.
“The extraordinary meeting between one of Trump’s most trusted emissaries and the authoritarian head of a rogue state was part of an effort to lay the groundwork for direct talks between Trump and Kim about North Korea’s nuclear weapons program,” the Post said.
Trump took to Twitter Wednesday morning to affirm the top-secret diplomatic mission.
“Mike Pompeo met with Kim Jong Un in North Korea last week. Meeting went very smoothly and a good relationship was formed,” Trump said. “Details of Summit are being worked out now. Denuclearization will be a great thing for World, but also for North Korea!”
Mike Pompeo met with Kim Jong Un in North Korea last week. Meeting went very smoothly and a good relationship was formed. Details of Summit are being worked out now. Denuclearization will be a great thing for World, but also for North Korea!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2018
News of the trip follows Pompeo’s confirmation hearing last week for secretary of state in which he made several references to Pyongyang.
Pompeo denied advocating for the overthrow of the Kim regime while seeking the role of top U.S. diplomat.
“I have never advocated for regime change,” Pompeo told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “I am not advocating for regime change.”
The CIA director instead cautiously asserted that the upcoming face-to-face between Trump and Kim was an important diplomatic step forward.
“I’m optimistic that the United States government can set the conditions for that appropriately so that the president and the North Korean leader can have that conversation [that] will set us down the course of achieving a diplomatic outcome that America so desperately — America and the world so desperately need,” Pompeo said.
Trump appeared to hint at Pompeo’s historic visit while speaking at Mar-a-Lago Tuesday, stating that direct talks with North Korea were being held “at very high levels.”
“We have had direct talks at very high levels, extremely high levels with North Korea,” Trump said.
The president also gave his “blessing” to talks between South Korea and North Korea concerning a potential end to the Korean war, although the U.S., not South Korea, is a signatory to the armistice agreement.
“They do have my blessing to discuss the end of the war,” Trump said.
Trump also said Tuesday that his meeting with Kim would likely take place in early June, unforeseen any issues that may arise.
“It’s possible things won’t go well and we won’t have the meetings, and we’ll just continue to go on this very strong path we have taken,” Trump added.
While significant steps are being made towards a possible deal with Pyongyang, some remain skeptical as to whether North Korea is genuine.
Ex-North Korean diplomat Thae Yong-ho predicted Monday that Kim “will drag on for two to three years” without giving up his nuclear weapons “while waiting for the U.S. president to be replaced.”
Thae argued that the North “can never abandon its nuclear weapons because it proclaims itself a nuclear state in its Constitution.”