Pyongyang: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to North Korea on Wednesday to finalize plans for a historic summit between President Donald Trump and the North’s leader, Kim Jong Un. Pompeo is expected to return from North Korea with three Americans who have been detained in the country, sources familiar with the matter told CBS News on Tuesday.
Pompeo discussed the agenda for a potential summit in a meeting with Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of the central committee of North Korea’s ruling party.
Later, at a lunch of poached fish and duck hosted by Kim Yong Chol, Pompeo said the senior official had been a great partner in working to make the summit a success.
“For decades, we have been adversaries. Now we are hopeful that we can work together to resolve this conflict,” Pompeo said, adding that “there are many challenges along the way.”
Kim noted the improved relations between the Koreas, as well as the North’s policy to “concentrate all efforts into economic progress” in the country.
“This is not a result of sanctions that have been imposed from outside,” he added, citing the will of the Korean people. Mr. Trump has said that his pressure tactics brought North Korea to the negotiating table.
The trip, Pompeo’s second to North Korea this year, had not been publicly disclosed when he flew out of Washington under cover of darkness late Monday aboard an Air Force 757. Mr. Trump announced the mission Tuesday afternoon as he laid out the case for withdrawing from a landmark nuclear deal with Iran, another bitter U.S. adversary.
Minutes later, Pompeo arrived in Japan to refuel before flying on to Pyongyang. Accompanying him were a handful of senior aides, a security detail and two journalists — one from The Associated Press and one from The Washington Post, both given roughly four hours’ notice of his departure.
When the flight arrived Wednesday morning in Pyongyang, North Korean officials were on hand to greet Pompeo. A motorcade took Pompeo and his delegation to the Koryo Hotel, the main hotel for foreigners in Pyongyang.
The trip came just days after North Korea expressed displeasure with Washington for comments suggesting that massive U.S. pressure had pushed Kim Jong Un to the negotiating table.
Pompeo, who first traveled to North Korea as CIA chief in early April, is only the second sitting secretary of state to visit the reclusive nation with which the U.S. is still technically at war. The first was Madeleine Albright, who went in 2000 as part of an unsuccessful bid to arrange a meeting between then-President Bill Clinton and Kim Jong Un’s father, Kim Jong Il.