The Trump administration made direct face-to-face contact with the Kim Jong-un regime in North Korea with CIA Director Mike Pompeo making a covert visit to the country over Easter weekend, the Washington Post reported Tuesday. The visit by Pompeo, nominated to be President Trump’s Secretary of State, was part of an effort to set up direct talks between Trump and Kim over the country’s nuclear program. The White House expects that negotiation to happen by early June.
Trump alluded to the previously undisclosed meeting Tuesday at Mar-a-Lago during a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, saying the U.S. and North Korea had had talks “at very high levels.” It was a particularly striking—and cryptic—statement since the United States, at the moment, does not have official diplomatic relations with North Korea. Several back channels, however, have emerged allowing Washington and Pyongyang to communicate. And then, of course, there’s Twitter.
There had been evidence of a slight détente of late. “About a week after Pompeo’s trip to North Korea, U.S. officials said that officials there had directly confirmed that Kim was willing to negotiate about potential denuclearization, according to administration officials, a sign that both sides had opened a new communications channel ahead of the summit meeting and that the administration believed North Korea was serious about holding a summit,” the Post reports. “Pompeo has taken the lead on the administration’s negotiations with Pyongyang. His meeting with Kim marks the highest-level meeting between the two countries since 2000, when then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met with Kim Jong Il, the current leader’s late father, to discuss strategic issues.”