SEOUL: Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Mike Pompeo was in South Korea Monday for an “internal meeting,” the US embassy in Seoul confirmed, following reports of an unannounced visit as tensions mount over growing nuclear threats from the North.
South Korea’s largest daily Chosun Ilbo reported Monday that Pompeo arrived in Seoul at the weekend and held back-to-back closed-door meetings with the head of the South’s spy agency and senior presidential officials.
Citing multiple intelligence sources, it said the CIA chief provided a detailed briefing on the Trump administration’s policy on Pyongyang and assessed the internal situation of the North Korean leadership.
The report added that Pompeo also exchanged views on the outlook for Seoul-Washington ties after South Korea’s May 9 presidential elections.
An official at the US embassy confirmed that the CIA chief was in South Korea, but said he had a limited itinerary.
“The CIA director and his wife are in Seoul for an internal meeting with the United States Forces Korea and embassy officials,” he said.
“He is not meeting with any Blue House officials, nor is he meeting with any political candidates,” he added, declining to elaborate further about any other possible meetings.
Pompeo’s trip comes amid rising tensions on the Korean peninsula following a series of missile tests by the North and speculation that Pyongyang could be preparing to conduct another nuclear test.
Pyonyang’s latest attempted show of force was a failed missile test on Saturday that came just hours after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson pressed the UN Security Council for more pressure to push the North into abandoning its weapons programme.
The tensions have also triggered some friction between Seoul and Washington, after Trump suggested in a recent interview that the South should pay for the THAAD anti-missile system that the US is deploying on its ally’s territory.