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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Mike Pompeo's secret visit to Pyongyang is the latest in a series of dramatic events in the run-up to the summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un. It’s almost certainly not the last.
Surprise #1: Trump accepts Kim’s invitation
Surprise #2: Kim rolls into Beijing
Surprise #3: CIA chief heads to Pyongyang
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the CIA Director and Secretary of State-designate was dispatched to Pyongyang on Easter weekend to meet with Kim. The news was leaked to bolster Pompeo’s standing ahead of his confirmation battle, Politico reports and Axios’ Jonathan Swan has confirmed.
Between the lines:
The White House and State Department wouldn’t say whether there was any coordination with Tokyo or Seoul ahead of Pompeo’s trip. The news certainly didn’t reach some diplomats in D.C., who were sent scrambling by the news.
If there was any coordination, Tatsumi says, it was probably with South Korean intelligence. As for the Chinese, Johnson says, “I would highly doubt they were consulted, but I'm sure they were informed," by the North Koreans, probably shortly before Pompeo’s arrival.
The big picture: "Part of this is normal, but we've got a wacky situation here," Walsh says. When it comes time to present a "final package," he adds, "surprises won't fly."
Pompeo leaves a Senate Intelligence Committee closed door meeting. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Joel Rubin, president of the Washington Strategy Group and a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, writes:
One problem with the summit planning process — Kim might not have a plane capable of taking him to far-away destinations:
Possible summit locations experts have floated to Shannon and me this week:
Situational awareness: "Kim Jong-un is no longer demanding that American troops be removed from South Korea as a condition for denuclearization, the South’s president, Moon Jae-in, said Thursday," per NY Times.
A woman walks past a fading revolutionary mural in Havana. Photo: Yamil Lage/AFP/Getty Images
Miguel Díaz-Canel was sworn in as Cuba's president today, becoming the island's first non-Castro leader in six decades. Diaz-Canel is Raul Castro's hand-picked successor and, at 57, nearly 30 years his junior.
What to watch, from the Economist: "Mr Díaz-Canel, an engineer by training, has sent mixed signals about whether he is a reformer or a reactionary. Whatever his instincts may be, he will be influenced by forces that pull in opposite directions. On the one hand, the economy needs to be unshackled if it is to provide Cubans with better living standards. On the other, the Communist Party is loath to give up control, or to allow the rise of an elite that might compete with it."
Macron and Xi in China during a state visit by the French president. Photo: Mark Schiefelbein, Pool/Getty Images
This week, Beijing's top trade official, Fu Ziying, met with several European ambassadors as trade disputes with the U.S. escalate, per Reuters.
While Beijing is courting the European Union for support in a trade war, European officials are sounding the alarm about China's ambitions in their countries, Axios' Erica Pandey writes.
Go deeper: Read Erica's full piece.
Soner Cagaptay, fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and author of The New Sultan, gave me three reasons Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is moving elections to this June, rather than next November.
The elections are to be held under a state of emergency, and Erdoğan will "make sure it's an uneven playing field," Cagaptay adds.
Razak waves his party's flag at a rally. Photo: Mohd Rasfan/AFP/Getty Images
As Prime Minister Najib Razak seeks re-election despite his implication in a billion-dollar graft scandal, he's playing up Malaysia's ethnic divisions, Alex Kliment of GZERO Media writes in the latest edition of the Signal newsletter.
"If the meeting, when I’m there, is not fruitful, I will respectfully leave the meeting.”— President Trump on meeting Kim Jong-un
Thanks for reading, and see you Monday evening!