Pompeo taking lead role in planning Trump’s North Korea meeting: report

Pompeo taking lead role in planning Trump’s North Korea meeting: report
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CIA Director Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoUS-Iran tensions rise: Five things to know about oil tanker attack US-Iran tensions rise: Five things to know about oil tanker attack The US must do its part in closing the largest outdoor prison in the world MORE is taking the lead in back-channel communications with North Korea as President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump defends Stephanopolous interview Trump defends Stephanopolous interview Buttigieg on offers of foreign intel: 'Just call the FBI' MORE prepares to meet with the country's leader Kim Jong Un, The New York Times reports.

Pompeo, whom Trump announced this week he would appoint as his new secretary of State, has been dealing with North Korean representatives through a channel between the CIA and its counterpart in North Korea and has been in contact with South Korea's intelligence chief, who helped broker the Trump-Kim meeting, according to the report.

The CIA's role in communicating with North Korea reflects the diminished role of the State Department, which traditionally handles such high-profile diplomatic meetings, and comes after Trump ousted Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonBolton says Russia, China seeking to promote discord in Trump administration Bolton says Russia, China seeking to promote discord in Trump administration Trump's nastiest break-ups: A look at the president's most fiery feuds MORE this week.

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Pompeo still needs to be confirmed by the Senate to serve as the nation's top diplomat, but the Times noted that by working through the CIA's channels he could be involved in the kind of diplomatic work he will be expected to carry out at the State Department.

First daughter and White House adviser Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpOn The Money: DOJ offers legal opinion backing refusal to release Trump tax returns | Centrist Democrats raise concerns over minimum wage | Trump bashes Powell ahead of crucial Fed meeting | Design leaks for Harriet Tubman bill On The Money: DOJ offers legal opinion backing refusal to release Trump tax returns | Centrist Democrats raise concerns over minimum wage | Trump bashes Powell ahead of crucial Fed meeting | Design leaks for Harriet Tubman bill Financial disclosure form shows Ivanka Trump earned M from DC Trump hotel MORE is also stepping up and announced she will meet South Korea's foreign minister in Washington following Tillerson's ouster.

CIA officials have been involved in sensitive diplomacy with North Korea in the past, with former CIA Director James ClapperJames Robert ClapperGeraldo Rivera: Comey, Clapper, Brennan should be 'quaking' in their boots over Barr investigation Trump declassification move unnerves Democrats Comey: 'The FBI doesn't spy, the FBI investigates' MORE secretly visiting the country in 2014 to negotiate the release of American captives being held there.

Trump shocked many in Washington this month when he agreed to a meeting with Kim to discuss denuclearization, a meeting that would be the first of its kind between a North Korean leader and a sitting U.S. president.

"The deal with North Korea is very much in the making and will be, if completed, a very good one for the World," Trump tweeted last week. "Time and place to be determined."

North Korean officials were likely surprised to learn that Trump was eager to accept the meeting, a former top U.S. official said this week.

“To be frank with you, I think they were a little bit surprised that Washington, President Trump readily accepted. They thought it would take a little time,” Joseph Yun, the former U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, told CNN.