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Iran Press TV

CIA chief in South Korea for 'internal visit'

Iran Press TV

Mon May 1, 2017 10:13AM

CIA Director Mike Pompeo has traveled to South Korea for what the US embassy there described as an "internal meeting," as North Korea remains defiant in the face of US threats to drop its development of ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.

"The CIA director and his wife are in Seoul for an internal meeting with the United States Forces Korea and embassy officials," an embassy official said Monday.

The confirmation of the unannounced visit came hours after the South's largest daily Chosun Ilbo first reported the weekend visit.

According to the newspaper, Pompeo held back-to-back closed-door meetings with the head of the South's spy agency and senior presidential officials.

The spymaster briefed Korean officials on US President Donald Trump's policy against Pyongyang, the report stated.

The future of South Korea's leadership and the May 9 presidential vote in the country were also on the agenda.

South Korea's former President Park Geun-hye was ousted in March over a corruption scandal, plunging the country into political turmoil.

The US embassy, however, dismissed reports that Pompeo had paid a visit to the executive office and official residence of the South Korean head of state to hold meetings with possible presidential contenders.

"He is not meeting with any Blue House officials, nor is he meeting with any political candidates," the official said, adding that the CIA chief's limited stay did not allow organizing such meetings.

The Trump administration has stepped up its threats against the North by deploying THAAD missile system in the South while sending a naval armada to conduct joint drills with Japanese and South Korean navy forces off Korean waters.

In a CBS interview that was aired Sunday, Trump warned Pyongyang against testing new missiles or nuclear bombs.

Unshaken by the threats, North Korean leaders have responded by increasing their missile tests and even hinted at a new nuclear test in the coming weeks. They have also warned the US and its regional allies of a strong military response in case of any invasion.

The North has so far conducted five confirmed nuclear tests and numerous missile test-launches, with the latest being on Saturday.

Ties between Washington and Seoul were challenged over the weekend, after American officials said that South Korea should foot the $1 billion bill for the THAAD system, arguing that it was meant to defend the South against the North.

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