Report: CIA agent met with Japanese officials in March

By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |  April 16, 2018 at 1:58 PM
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April 16 (UPI) -- A CIA officer with the newly established Korea Mission Center at the agency secretly met with Japanese officials in March, according to a Japanese press report.

The Asahi Shimbun reported Monday the U.S. agent exchanged views with Tokyo's intelligence service under the Cabinet Office.

The two sides agreed to "strengthen solidarity" in the wake of an unprecedented level of North Korea's engagement with the outside world.

The speed at which North Korea has reached out to its neighbors may have taken Japan, a late adopter of engagement, by surprise following the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to a summit with Kim Jong Un, to be held in May or early June, but the decision may have come without forewarning.

The CIA meeting may not be enough for Japan, according to the Asahi.

Tokyo is so far unsatisfied with the lack of bilateral communication, sources told the Asahi. The frequent change of personnel at the White House and at the U.S. State Department has left Tokyo officials frustrated with the delays, the Japanese press report states.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is scheduled to meet with Trump this week at the president's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., for the second time.

The CIA created the Korea Mission Center in May 2017 as North Korea engaged in dozens of missile tests. Pyongyang subsequently shocked the world with its sixth nuclear test in September 2017.

North Korea also retains a 5,000-ton arsenal of chemical weapons, according to the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses in Seoul, South Korean newspaper Donga Ilbo reported Sunday.

The arsenal includes VX nerve agents, a type of chemical weapon that was used to assassination Kim Jong Nam, the older half-brother of Kim Jong Un, in Malaysia in 2017.

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