North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un praised U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for his guts, it was revealed in a recent Japanese report.
Monday’s report by The Asahi Shimbum revealed Kim’s praise of Pompeo during their secret meeting in Pyongyang over Easter weekend, United Press International reported.
“This is the first time I have met someone with the same kind of guts,” Kim reportedly said during the meeting.
While Pompeo is known for his tough stance on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, Kim was reportedly joyful and satisfied upon his meeting with Pompeo.
President Trump confirmed their secret meeting in mid-April. This was all prior to the historic summit that took place between Trump and Kim this month in Singapore.
Mike Pompeo met with Kim Jong Un in North Korea last week. Meeting went very smoothly and a good relationship was formed. Details of Summit are being worked out now. Denuclearization will be a great thing for World, but also for North Korea!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2018
A former Pompeo staffer told Vanity Fair’s Abigail Tracey that Kim immediately challenged Pompeo, who was not intimidated. Pompeo joked that he was still trying to kill Kim, evoking mutual laughter.
In May 2017, North Korean officials accused the CIA of coordinating with South Korea’s intelligence service to plot a biochemical attack against Kim Jong Un.
North Korea’s state media promised to “ferret out and mercilessly destroy” the “terrorists” behind the allegedly coordinated attack, NBC News had reported.
Pompeo, who served as CIA Director at the time, later made remarks on denuclearizing North Korea, as well as suggesting a desire to remove Kim from power.
“I am hopeful we will find a way to separate that regime from this system,” adding that the citizens of North Korea “would love to see [Kim] go,” CNN had reported.
Despite the exchanges, the secret meeting in April was productive.
Kim stated that he intends to eliminate his nuclear weapons program, while retaining the presence of U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula. He also stated his intention to release the three remaining U.S. detainees still held in North Korea, which he did.
The two held three to four separate meetings during Pompeo’s three days in North Korea, which were described as a success. The meetings were said to have laid the groundwork for the summit between Kim and President Trump.
The two also posed together for photos, which were released by the White House.
JUST RELEASED: Photos of Secretary of State Pompeo in North Korea. Secretary Pompeo will do an excellent job helping President Trump lead our efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. pic.twitter.com/pQ0P8hbMTN
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) April 26, 2018
In an interview with Fox & Friends, President Trump said that Pompeo “wasn’t supposed to meet with Kim Jong Un, but he did,” The Hill had reported. He added that Pompeo “was there to say hello” and arranged the meeting unexpectedly, which turned out to be “a great meeting.”
Pompeo met with officials in Pyongyang a second time in preparation for the Trump-Kim summit.
Of Pompeo, a Republican Senate aide told Vanity Fair: “He’s the key piece of all the North Korea stuff. He is sort of driving it. It shows how much he’s trusted by the President.”
Pompeo was confirmed as Secretary of State by the U.S. Senate earlier this year in a 57-42 vote, after several Senators relented in their opposition.
After the confirmation vote, Pompeo was swiftly sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, and within hours, took off by plane to his first trip as Secretary of State.
Since then, he has been busy meeting with foreign officials and reportedly working on plans to address morale issues at the State Department.
Pompeo has echoed President Trump’s sentiments promising a collaborative and bright future with North Korea if they denuclearize.