Pompeo: 'I am not advocating regime change' in North Korea

Secretary of State nominee Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoEven without hostility, North Korea diplomacy means mistrust and verify North Korea looked to set up communications back channel through Kushner: report Trump rattles Pentagon with Korea war games decision MORE said Thursday that he is not advocating for regime change in North Korea.

“I have never advocated for regime change,” Pompeo told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during the hearing. “I am not advocating for regime change.”

Pompeo, who currently serves as CIA director, was responding to a question from Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinCommunity development impact remains clear with NMTC post-tax reform Dem sen: ‘Difficult to understand’ Trump’s treatment of allies Dem sen: No military option in North Korea ‘without extreme risks’ MORE (D-Md.).

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Pompeo made waves last year when he made comments that were widely interpreted as supporting regime change in North Korea.

"It would be a great thing to denuclearize the peninsula, to get those weapons off of that, but the thing that is most dangerous about it is the character who holds the control over them today," Pompeo said at the Aspen Security Forum.

"So from the administration's perspective, the most important thing we can do is separate those two, right? Separate capacity and someone who might well have intent and break those two apart."

Cardin pressed Pompeo on the regime change issue and Pompeo responded, “You are misstating that.”

“Just to be clear, my role as a diplomat is to make sure that we never get to a place where we have to confront the difficult situation in Korea that this country has been head for now for a couple of decades,” Pompeo added.

If confirmed, Pompeo will be the nation’s top diplomat while the administration is preparing for a historic summit between President TrumpDonald John TrumpEx-ethics chief calls on Trump to end 'monstrous' migrant policies Laura Bush blasts Trump migrant policy as 'cruel' and 'immoral' US denies report of coalition airstrike on Syria MORE and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that Trump has said will take place in May or June.

Pompeo is reportedly already taking the lead in planning while serving in his capacity as CIA director, leading back-channel communications with Pyongyang to lay the groundwork for the summit.