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 PompeoTrump calls on foreign countries to protect their own oil tankers Trump to travel to South Korea The Hill's Morning Report - Crunch time arrives for 2020 Dems with debates on deck MORE is taking the lead in back-channel communications with North Korea as President TrumpDonald John TrumpConway defends herself against Hatch Act allegations amid threat of subpoena How to defuse Gulf tensions and avoid war with Iran Trump says 'stubborn child' Fed 'blew it' by not cutting rates 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 TillersonLeaked Trump transition vetting documents show numerous officials with 'red flags': Axios 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 TrumpAfrican Development Bank is much more than critic suggests Apple seeks to exempt products including iPhone from proposed tariffs The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by MAPRx — Tensions flare after Iran shoots down US drone 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.