Donald Trump confirmed Wednesday that his CIA chief took part in secret talks in North Korea, the most significant sign that an improbable summit between the US president and Kim Jong-un will go ahead.
News of the encounter between the reclusive Kim and Mike Pompeo – Trump's pick to be the next US secretary of state – was the latest in a series of revelations from the US leader that have fuelled hopes of a major diplomatic breakthrough with Pyongyang.
US President Donald Trump's CIA chief and nominee for secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, travelled to Pyongyang for "very high-level" meetings over Easter.. Meeting went very smoothly and a good relationship was formed," Trump tweeted, capping the latest twist in a detente in the decades old nuclear standoff.
"Details of Summit are being worked out now," added the president, who is hosting Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for two days of talks at his golf resort in Florida.
Neither Trump nor the White House offered details of what was discussed and it remains unclear if there is enough potential for an agreement to have the Trump-Kim summit, slated for early June, go ahead.
Officials and outside experts say it is still not clear that Kim, who depends on the military to remain in power, is willing to give up nuclear weapons.
North Korean talk of "denuclearisation" – which Trump has embraced uncritically – has in the past been code for removing the United States' military presence on the Korean peninsula, something long unthinkable in Washington.
Trump himself plans to hold a summit meeting with Kim within the next two months.
The pair have not spoken directly, the White House said, but the president revealed Tuesday there had been contact at "very high levels" to prepare for the historic meeting – an apparent reference to Pompeo's visit.
Trump also said that "five locations" were being considered for the summit.
"That will be taking place probably in early June or before that assuming things go well. It's possible things won't go well and we won't have the meetings and we'll just continue to go on this very strong path we have taken."
US officials say that no decision has yet been made on a meeting venue, but China, North Korea, South Korea, and Panmunjom in the Demilitarised Zone between the two Koreas are seen as possible locations.