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

Secretary of State nominee Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoAs tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet Trump's Huawei concession is 'the rope that could hang America' 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 CardinCan new US Strategy on Women, Peace & Security give women a real seat at the table? Ask Afghan women Maryland lawmakers slam 'despicable' Trump remark about journalists on newsroom shooting anniversary Democrats leery of Sanders plan to cancel student loan debt 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 TrumpEsper sidesteps question on whether he aligns more with Mattis or Trump Warren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' As tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA 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.