Washington: The US and North Korea have been holding secret, direct talks to prepare for a summit between American president Donald Trump and Pyongyang's leader Kim Jong-un, according to administration officials.
Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo and a team at the CIA have been working through intelligence back-channels to make preparations for the summit scheduled to be held in May, the officials told CNN late Saturday.
American and North Korean intelligence officials have spoken several times and have even met in a third country, with a focus on nailing down a location for the talks.
Although the North Korean regime has not publicly declared its invitation by Kim to meet Trump, which was conveyed in March by a South Korean envoy, several officials have said that North Korea has since acknowledged Trump's acceptance, and Pyongyang has reaffirmed that its leader was willing to discuss the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
According to the officials, the North Koreans are pushing to hold the meeting in Pyongyang, although it was unclear whether the White House would be willing. The Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar has also been raised as a possible location, the officials told CNN.
The talks were laying the groundwork for a meeting between Pompeo and his North Korea counterpart, the head of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, in advance of the leaders' summit. Once a location is agreed upon the officials said that the date will be set and the agenda discussed in greater detail. Last week, Trump told associates that he was looking forward to the summit, which he agreed to on the spot when presented the invitation from Kim.
In March, a New York Times report said that the CIA was taking the lead in preparing for the Trump-Kim summit.
State Department officials — Assistant Secretary Susan Thornton and deputy special representative for North Korean policy Mark Lambert — continue to communicate with the North Koreans though their mission to the UN, discussions which are referred to as the "New York channel".
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Updated Date: Apr 08, 2018 14:19:33 IST