CIA director met with North Korean leader, officials say

CIA director Mike Pompeo recently travelled to North Korea to meet with leader Kim Jong Un, two officials told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Recent trip came in advance of possible summit between Kim, Trump

From left: CIA Director Mike Pompeo, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump. (Yuri Gripas, KCNA, Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

CIA director Mike Pompeo recently travelled to North Korea to meet with leader Kim Jong-un, two U.S. officials said Tuesday.

The highly unusual, secret visit comes as the rival nations prepare for a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim, in what would the first summit between U.S. and North Korea during more than six decades of hostility since the Korean War.

The officials spoke anonymously about Pompeo's trip because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly.

The Washington Post, which first reported Pompeo's meeting with Kim, said it took place over Easter weekend — just over two weeks ago, shortly after the CIA chief was nominated to become secretary of state.

Trump, who is currently at his Florida resort meeting with Japanese leader Shinzo Abe, said Tuesday that the U.S. and North Korea were holding direct talks at "extremely high levels" in preparation for a possible summit with Kim.

But White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump and Kim have not spoken directly.

Trump is planning to meet with Kim by early June. The goal will be bring an end to North Korea's nuclear weapons program, which poses a growing threat to the U.S. mainland.

The U.S. and North Korea do not have formal diplomatic relations, complicating the arrangements for contacts between the two governments. It is not unprecedented for U.S. intelligence officials to serve as a conduit for communication with Pyongyang.

In 2014, then-director of National Intelligence James Clapper secretly visited North Korea to bring back two American detainees.

Meanwhile, South Korea's presidential office said it is considering how to change its decades-old armistice with North Korea.

The two countries are discussing various ways to improve the security situation on the Korean peninsula toward "a structure that is more fully peaceful," a high-ranking presidential official said, answering a question about a North Korea-South Korean summit planned for next week.