The U.S. is moving ahead with a planned meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.
Trump said Monday that a face-to-face is ‘being set up’ and will take place ‘sometime in May or early June.’
‘We’ve been in touch with North Korea,’ he confirmed. ‘And I think there’ll be great respect paid by both parties and hopefully we’ll be able to make a deal on the de-nuking of North Korea. They’ve said so; we’ve said so.’
North Korea told the U.S. that it is prepared to discuss denuclearization when North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (left) meets with President Donald Trump (right)
North Korea told the United States for the first time that it is prepared to discuss the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula when North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meets President Donald Trump, a U.S. official said on Sunday.
U.S. and North Korean officials have held secret contacts recently in which Pyongyang directly delivered the message of its willingness to hold the summit, the official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Until now, Washington had relied on South Korea’s assurance of Kim’s intentions.
But on Saturday, CNN reported that the U.S. was engaged in secret, direct talks.
Central Intelligence Agency head Mike Pompeo and his team are said to have been using intelligence back-channels to make preparations for the summit between Trump and the North Korean leader.
The North Koreans want the meeting to take place in their capital, Pyongyang.
It’s unclear whether the White House would be OK with that.
Mongolia’s capital Ulaanbaatar has also been discussed as a possible location.
Before Trump and Kim meet, a meeting is planned between Pompeo and his North Korean counterpart, the head of the Reconnaissance General Bureau.
Pompeo has been tapped to be Trump’s next secretary of state, and will start the Senate confirmation process this week.
The New York Times reported last month that it was the CIA that was taking the lead in the run-up to the historic meeting.
That was due to Pompeo’s influence, and because Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had fallen out of favor with President Trump, leading to him being replaced.
With the meeting with Kim approaching, Trump wanted a secretary of state in lockstep with him, and found that in Pompeo.
Beyond dealing with the North Koreans through the channel that runs between the CIA and the Reconnaissance General Burea, Pompeo has also been in close touch with the director of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, Suh Hoon, who was the individual who brokered Kim’s invitation to Trump, the Times said.
The U.S. State Department has been communicating with the North Koreans through their mission at the United Nations, CNN also said.
And incoming National Security Adviser John Bolton, who started his job Monday – replacing the president’s second National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster – is expected to join Pompeo in planning the meeting.
Kim made a historic visit to Beijing, another suggested location for the summit, last month to meet with Xi Jinping for the first time.
China has traditionally been North Korea’s closest ally and its greatest trading partner.
For balance, Trump will meet next week at his private club in Florida with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Kim and South Korea President Moon Jae-in are also due to meet thismonth before the Trump-Kim summit, rounding out the talks.