Recently, President Donald Trump has alluded to the fact that the U.S. has already started talks with the North Korean regime as part of his potential sit-down with the authoritarian leader. “We have had direct talks at very high levels, extremely high levels, with North Korea,” Trump explained, according to a report from The Washington Post.
It seems that the president was right after it was just revealed that CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who has been tapped to replace the now-vacant Secretary of State position, visited with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over Easter weekend. On Wednesday, Trump acknowledged the then-clandestine diplomatic mission to the rogue state and claimed that “a good relationship was formed,” paving the way to an eventual meeting between both heads of state to discuss North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
Taking to Twitter, Trump said, “Mike Pompeo met with Kim Jong Un in North Korea last week.” He added, “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!”
Although the meeting took place over the Easter holiday weekend, it is unclear as to why the president mentioned “last week” in his tweet. Nonetheless, it was a landmark meeting that signals the first true, significant movement between the U.S. and North Korea in nearly 20 years.
Pompeo has taken the diplomatic lead on negotiations between the White House and Pyongyang. His meeting was the highest-level contact between the two nations since then-Secretary of State Madeline Albright met with the current leader’s father, Kim Jong Il, in 2000. In 2014, then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper visited North Korea to secure the release of two American captives and met with a lower-level intelligence official.
During his confirmation hearing last week, Pompeo told the Senate Foreign Relation committee, “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.”
One week after Pompeo’s secret meeting, North Korea officials reportedly confirmed that Kim will possibly negotiate with the U.S. about a potential denuclearization deal, showing that new communications between both sides have been opened ahead of the potential Trump-Kim summit.
Trump has said that he would sit down with Kim probably in early June, if not sooner. Currently, five locations are being considered for a meeting, none of which are in the U.S. White House officials claim they are looking at potential sites in Asia outside of the Korean Peninsula, including Southeast Asia, as well as Europe.
“There’s a great chance to solve a world problem,” he said. “This is not a problem for the United States. This is not a problem for Japan or any other country. This is a problem for the world.”