Pompeo says Kim Jong Un 'serious' about nuclear talks

Pompeo spent his first day as secretary of state with his NATO counterparts.

Just weeks before he was confirmed as secretary of state, Pompeo met one-on-one in a secret meeting with Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang, helping to prepare for Kim's summit with Trump in May or early June.

In his first news conference, Pompeo refused to go into great detail about the meeting, but he was asked if after meeting Kim, he thinks he is unstable or if he's serious about talks.

"Yes, I did get a sense that he was serious," he said, adding praise for Trump, "The economic pressure that has been put in place by this global effort that President Trump has led him to believe that it's in his best interest to come to the table and talk about denuclearization."

Pompeo said that pressure will remain until North Korea takes action, cautioning that he's "always careful" given the country's record of duplicity. Trump said Thursday that he will walk away if the talks fail, with the sanctions regime still in place.

"But in the event we reach a resolution, it would be a wonderful thing for the world," Pompeo added.


Pompeo appeared confident and comfortable with his foreign counterparts at NATO, not just smiling for photos and sharing laughs, but also commanding a press conference with the ease of a former member of Congress.

But one of the most important challenges Pompeo faces in his new role is back home in Washington -- boosting an agency that has been described as "gutted," with several top positions vacant and rank-and-file members infuriated by hiring and promotion freezes and by proposed budget cuts.

Pompeo had his first meeting with overseas personnel at the U.S. mission to NATO and told reporters, "They may have been demoralized, but they seemed in good spirits."

Pompeo will start at the department in Washington on Tuesday.

"There's been no decision made," Pompeo said. But the former Ccngressman who once called for tearing up the deal said Trump has been clear: "Absent a substantial fix, absent overcoming the shortcomings, the flaws of the deal, he is unlikely to stay in that deal past this May."