ABC's WH correspondent Jonathan Karl hosts newly confirmed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss his meeting last month with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and plans for President Trump to meet him next month. This Pompeo's his first interview as Secretary of State.
"I was on a mission, Jonathan. I had a mission to begin to lay the groundwork for President Trump's meeting with Kim Jong-un... We had a good conversation," Pompeo said. "We talked about serious matters. He was very well prepared. I hope I matched that."
"We had an extensive conversation on the hardest issues that face our two countries," he repeated.
"I had a clear mission statement from President Trump. When I left there, Kim Jong-un understood the mission exactly as I’ve described it today. And he agreed that he was prepared to talk about that and to lay out a map that will help us achieve that objective."
JONATHAN KARL: Secretary Pompeo, thank you for joining us on your very first trip as secretary of state.
MIKE POMPEO: Thank you, Jonathan. It is great to be with you.
KARL: So, I want to start with those incredible images that we saw of Kim Jong-un stepping into South Korea for the first time we have ever seen a North Korean dictator do that. How big, how significant was that moment?
POMPEO: Yeah, Jonathan, I think it's a big deal. It is important, every step along the way matters. The objective remains the same: complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization. That has been the administration's goal. President Trump has put economic pressure on the North Koreans and it appears to have given us an opening - this real opportunity for something that would be transformative for the world if we can achieve it.
KARL: And let's look at those more remarkable images of your meeting with Kim Jong-un. The two of you just standing there side-by-side. What was going through your mind at that moment?
POMPEO: I was on a mission, Jonathan. I had a mission to begin to lay the groundwork for President Trump's meeting with Kim Jong-un. We wanted to make sure that we understood that the North Koreans -- Kim Jong-un -- are prepared to talk about things that matter most, to give us a grounds, a basis to have that meeting between the president and the chairman. I was very focused on that in that moment.
KARL: The president said that the meeting -- the meeting between the two of you was entirely unplanned and it lasted for more than an hour. How did it come about?
POMPEO: Well, I was there on a mission. I was aiming to achieve the goals that the president set forward to me, it became clear that I was going to get the chance to meet with Kim Jong-un to discuss some of the details. But most importantly, to take a read on whether there was an opportunity here for our two countries to achieve this and when I came back I reported to the president the discussion. It was a productive one. There remains a great deal of work to do. But we at least have the opportunity here to do something that’s incredibly important.
KARL: As the CIA director, you obviously spent a lot of time in the CIA, spent years, resources on trying to read the North Korean leadership, trying to understand Kim Jong-un. What did you come away learning about him in that meeting?
POMPEO: Well, anytime you get the chance to meet face-to-face with someone, you get a better read about what they’re thinking, whether they’re really prepared to do something that is historic and different. And we have a long history of negotiating with North Korea. Repeatedly, they have taken actions only to find that those promises proved false or unworthy or they were incapable of keeping them. My goal was to try and identify if there was a real opportunity there. I believe there is. Who knows how the ultimate discussions will go. There is a lot of work to do, but I am very hopeful that the conditions that have been set by President Trump give us this chance.
KARL: The president said you have good relationship with Kim Jong-un after this. Do you?
POMPEO: We had a good conversation. We talked about serious matters. He was very well prepared. I hope I matched that. We had an extensive conversation on the hardest issues that face our two countries. I had a clear mission statement from President Trump. When I left there, Kim Jong-un understood the mission exactly as I’ve described it today. And he agreed that he was prepared to talk about that and to lay out a map that will help us achieve that objective. Only time could tell if we can get that done.
KARL: So, you went down there to set up this summit meeting between Kim Jong-un and the president or take steps toward doing that. What do you looking at this - what is your assessment? What is the best plausible outcome that we can see after this first meeting of Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un?
POMPEO: Well, we hope a number of things could be achieved. I talked about getting the release of the American detainees. And then we talked a great deal about what it might look like, what this complete, verifiable, irreversible mechanism might look like. And so, when the two leaders the only people that can make those decisions will be in a room together, they can set the course. They can chart the outcome. They can then direct the teams to go deliver that outcome. And the best outcome would be that, that the two agree that they’re going to get there and charter their teams to go make that happen.