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

Secretary of State nominee Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoHouse postpones testimony from key Pompeo aide about IG firing The Hill's 12:30 Report: Democratic proposal to extend 0 unemployment checks Pompeo pushes back on Russian bounty reports 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 CardinSenate passes extension of application deadline for PPP small-business loans 1,700 troops will support Trump 'Salute to America' celebrations July 4: Pentagon GOP lawmakers voice support for Israeli plan to annex areas in West Bank 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 TrumpHouse panel approves 0.5B defense policy bill House panel votes against curtailing Insurrection Act powers after heated debate House panel votes to constrain Afghan drawdown, ask for assessment on 'incentives' to attack US troops 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.