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Led by former Central Intelligence Agency chief Mike Pompeo, who awaits confirmation for his appointment as a secretary of state, the U.S. intelligence officials have met with their North Korean counterparts several times in a third country to nail down a venue for the summit, USA officials told CNN.

"Even if we were aware of the talks, we can not comment on it", said an anonymous Cheong Wad Dae official, according to Yonhap News Agency.

CNN reports that Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, is also being considered as a potential meeting place.

USA and North Korean intelligence officials have spoken a few times and even met in a third country, CNN reported.

Whether or not Kim had genuinely offered to discuss dismantling his nuclear program was a key question surrounding his offer to meet Trump, made in March and conveyed to the USA via a South Korean envoy.

Michael Pompeo, the U.S. Secretary of State, and the team from the Central Intelligence Agency are dealing with the preparations to the summit.

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The talks were laying the groundwork for a meeting between Pompeo and his North Korea counterpart, the head of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, in advance of the leaders' summit. "If there were such talks, we think it's a positive move".

But Pyongyang has been silent publicly since then about a summit, even as Kim visited Beijing earlier this month in his first visit outside North Korea since assuming control of the country after his father, Kim Jong-il, died in 2011.

North Korea was "suffocating" under global sanctions, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said on Thursday, adding, "They need an out".

The CIA has been using intelligence channels while the State Department has been in contact with North Korea by way of the North Korean mission to the United Nations in NY.

The spokesperson would not say who had met with North Korea officials, describing the details as internal U.S. preparations, but added that "a comprehensive, whole-of-government effort in support of the president is actively under way".


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