Spies, not diplomats, take lead role in planning Trump’s North Korea meeting

The White House’s decision to use intelligence, rather than diplomatic, channels in communicating with the North Koreans speaks to the influence of Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director whom Mr. Trump chose this week to replace Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson. It also reflects the State Department’s diminished role in preparing for the riskiest encounter between an American president and a foreign leader in many years.

Mr. Pompeo, these officials said, has already been dealing with North Korean representatives through a channel that runs between the C.I.A. and its North Korean counterpart, the Reconnaissance General Bureau. And he has been in close touch with the director of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, Suh Hoon, who American officials said brokered Mr. Kim’s invitation to Mr. Trump.

The deep involvement of Mr. Pompeo, officials said, helps explain the timing of Mr. Tillerson’s ouster. Mr. Trump, having decided to accept Mr. Kim’s invitation to a meeting, wanted to have a secretary of state who was in lock step with his views, these people said.