After a breakthrough in North Korea —US settlement talks and the former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) chief stepping in as the new Secretary of State, the CIA has taken the lead in the Korean settlement talks as a new back channel has been established between North Korea and the USA, CBS News reported, citing US officials. Before information about the direct contact was leaked, the only known diplomatic connection was maintained by the State Department through the United Nations.
The information comes hot on the heels after former CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who is reported to favor so-called “quiet diplomacy,” stepped in as the Secretary of State. Former head of the State Department Rex Tillerson was fired by Donald Trump, with whom he reportedly disagreed on some issues, including Tillerson’s choice of diplomatic engagement over other tactics. Reuters, citing its inside sources, reported that disagreement between Tillerson and Trump over the approach towards solving the Korean nuclear crisis was the main reason for his dismissal, as the US president allegedly thought his top diplomat would want to back down on North Korea.
Meanwhile, days before he got the job as Secretary of State, then-CIA chief Pompeo commented on the probability of meeting his North Korean counterpart, saying he'd leave that decision to the president, while stressing the central role of his agency.
"We will be at the center of providing the intelligence picture to the president and to the secretary of state so that each of them can understand how it is we can most likely achieve the president's objective," he told CBS’ "Face the Nation."
Trump rearranged the State Department less than a week after he agreed to meet with Kim Jong-un for the first time, on the condition that Pyongyang makes specific steps to roll up its nuclear program. He willingly met the recent North Korean proposal to talk, pausing all nuclear tests and missile launches during the negotiations, preceded by a series of high-level meetings. At the beginning of March, South Korean top officials met North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, after which Seoul and Pyongyang reached a historic agreement to hold the third ever summit of the countries’ leaders in late April.