WASHINGTON, April 18: President Donald Trump on Wednesday confirmed that his CIA chief secretly met with Kim Jong Un in North Korea and said “a good relationship was formed” heading into the adversaries’ anticipated summit.
Mike Pompeo’s highly unusual talks took place “last week,” Trump tweeted, and “went smoothly,” with details about the presidential meeting within the next few months “being worked out now.”
“Denuclearization will be a great thing for World, but also for North Korea!” Trump wrote while at his Florida estate, where he was hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Trump had disclosed on Tuesday that the U.S. and North Korea were holding direct talks at “extremely high levels” in preparation for a possible summit. He said five locations were under consideration for the meeting, which could take place by early June.
Confirmation of Pompeo’s trip later came from two officials, who were not authorized to discuss the meeting publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The Washington Post, which first reported the development, said it took place over Easter weekend — just over two weeks ago, shortly after Pompeo was nominated to become secretary of state.
Kim’s offer for a summit was initially conveyed to Trump by South Korea last month, and the president shocked many by accepting it. U.S. officials indicated over the past two weeks that North Korea’s government had communicated directly with Washington that it was ready to discuss its nuclear weapons program.
It would be the first-ever summit between the U.S. and North Korea during more than six decades of hostility since the Korean War. North Korea’s nuclear weapons and its capability to deliver them by ballistic missile pose a growing threat to the U.S. mainland.
The U.S. and North Korea do not have formal diplomatic relations, complicating the arrangements for contacts between the two governments. It is not unprecedented for U.S. intelligence officials to serve as a conduit for communication with Pyongyang.
In 2014, the then-director of U.S. national intelligence, James Clapper, secretly visited North Korea to bring back two American detainees.
China, North Korea’s closest ally, said it welcomes direct contact and talks between the U.S. and North Korea after news emerged of Pompeo’s meeting with Kim.