CIA director in secret meeting with Kim Jong-un ahead of US-North Korea summit

CIA director Mike Pompeo travelled to Pyongyang for a secret meeting with Kim Jong-un during Easter, US reports state

CIA director, Mike Pompeo
CIA director, Mike Pompeo

CIA director Mike Pompeo travelled to Pyongyang for a secret meeting with Kim Jong-un during Easter, US reports state.

Two people with direct knowledge of the trip told the Washington Post that Pompeo met with the North Korean leader over Easter as part of an effort to lay the groundwork for direct talks between Donald Trump and Kim.

Trump had earlier alluded to high-level direct talks with Pyongyang.

The mission came soon after Pompeo was nominated to be secretary of state.

The CIA has not confirmed the meeting, which would be the highest level meeting between the two countries since 2000, when then secretary of state Madeleine Albright met Kim Jong-il, Kim’s father, in Pyongyang. It would also mark the first time the previously reclusive Kim Jong-un has met a senior western official.

Asked about the report, a White House spokesman said: “We do not comment on the CIA director’s travel.”

The president added that he gave his "blessing" for talks between the South and North to discuss a peace treaty to formally end the 1950-1953 Korean War.

A few hours before the Washington Post report was published, Trump told the press about an unspecified high-level meeting.

“We have ... started talking to North Korea directly. We have had direct talks at very high levels, extremely high levels, with North Korea. And I truly believe there is a a lot of good will. A lot of things are happening. Good things are happening,” Trump said at a meeting with the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe at his Florida resort of Mar-a-Lago. “We’ll see what happens. Because it’s the end result that counts, not the fact that we’re thinking about having a meeting.”

Trump added that his planned summit with Kim could be “in early June or a little before” and that five possible venues are being discussed. But he conceded it was possible that the unprecedented meeting might not happen at all.

“It’s possible things won’t go well and we won’t have the meetings, and we’ll just continue to go along this very strong path that we’ve taken,” the president said. “But we will see what happens.”

South Korea has also signalled that it may pursue a formal resolution of the conflict. South Korea's President Moon Jae-in and Kim are scheduled to meet at the end of April.

The US does not have diplomatic relations with North Korea, although diplomats have visited in the past and there are some so-called "back channels" used to communicate with Pyongyang.

Last month, Trump accepted Pyongyang’s suggestion for direct talks with North Korea. It would be unprecedented for a sitting US president to meet a North Korean leader.

The key question at any summit between Trump and Kim Jong-un is whether the North Korean leader is serious about dismantling his regime’s nuclear weapons and missiles programme and what he would demand from the US in return.

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