Soon-to-be Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a secret trip to North Korea to meet with reclusive leader Kim Jong-Un last month in order to lay the ground work for a summit between Kim and President Trump, it was recently revealed. The trip occurred over Easter weekend. Knowledge of the trip was closely guarded, with only a limited number of administration officials being aware of it.
“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 told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week during his confirmation hearing for the Secretary of State position.
Pompeo is currently the Director of the CIA.
President Trump seemed to allude to the clandestine meeting shortly after it took place earlier this month. “We have had direct talks at very high levels, extremely high levels with North Korea,” Trump said during a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the President’s Florida estate Mar-a-Lago.
He didn’t elaborate at the time about the meetings or who was involved in them but would subsequently confirm Pompeo’s meeting Kim in a post on Twitter.
“Mike Pompeo met with Kim Jong Un in North Korea last week,” he wrote. “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!”
North Korea’s rogue regime surprised the international community last month when they announced a desire to completely halt its nuclear program and meet with U.S. President Donald Trump face-to-face to discuss the permanent denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
A statement was read by South Korean national security chief Chung Eui-yong near the entrance to the West Wing of the White House during a visit there in March relaying Kim’s offer to President Trump. The President accepted it and details began being discussed.
Mr. Trump has indicated a meeting would happen between he and Kim probably in early June. Five sites are being discussed as possible meeting points between the two leaders. None are in the U.S. or on the Korean Peninsula according to the President and administration officials. Potential locations include Southeast Asia and Europe.
Pompeo’s meeting with Kim Jong Un was the highest-level contact between the U.S. and North Korea’s government since 2000. Then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met with Kim Jong Il, Kim father, that year to discuss strategic issues.
Kim Jong Un started the year calling for a “melting” of frozen relations between the North and the South in 2018. Talks between the two Korean nations accelerated after Kim sent a North Korean delegation to the Winter Olympic Games in Seoul in February. The two countries marched under a single flag during the opening ceremony in a further sign of unity.
The U.S. government is holding out hope that the North Korean regime is serious about denuclearizing and the tamping down hostilities on the Korean Peninsula, but have been cautious in their public comments leading up to any talks between the two nations.
“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,” the President said last week.
Photo by The White House