Photo/IllutrationNorth Korean leader Kim Jong Un meets with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Pyongyang on May 9. This photo was distributed by the Korean Central News Agency. (Korea News Service)

WASHINGTON--A veteran CIA agent has played a key role in arranging the historic summit meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Andrew Kim, a Korean-American with about 25 years’ experience in the Central Intelligence Agency, accompanied U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo when he met with the North Korean leader in Pyongyang on May 9, according to several U.S. government sources as well as diplomatic sources.

It is extremely rare for a high-ranking CIA official to be seen accompanying a U.S. secretary of state on an overseas trip.

Andrew Kim has worked in Tokyo and until recently was the head of the CIA bureau in Seoul.

From about spring 2017, Trump began applying the maximum level of pressure on North Korea to force it to abandon its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile development programs.

With behind-the-scenes negotiations through the U.S. State Department going nowhere in achieving dialogue with Pyongyang, Trump asked Pompeo to look for ways to open a door of communication. At that time, Pompeo headed the CIA.

The CIA had created a channel for communicating with North Korea from around 2010 when Barack Obama was U.S. president. Andrew Kim is said to have played a key role in that process.

Kim began working more actively from about January after Pyongyang began showing signs of taking a more conciliatory stance.

In late February, when Trump's oldest daughter, Ivanka, attended the Opening Ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea, Andrew Kim accompanied her. While in South Korea, he held secret meetings with a high-ranking official of North Korea's United Front Department, according to sources.

In late March, when Kim Jong Un made his first trip abroad as North Korean leader and visited China for a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Andrew Kim also flew to Beijing and again held secret meetings with United Front Department officials.

That contact led to the decision to hold a U.S.-North Korea summit as well as paved the way for Pompeo's first visit to Pyongyang for talks with Kim Jong Un.

When Pompeo arrived in Pyongyang for his second visit on May 9, he was shown on Korean Central Television being greeted by Andrew Kim. That may have meant that Kim had arrived in Pyongyang earlier for talks with North Korean officials.

One source knowledgeable about U.S.-North Korean relations said that the Trump-Kim Jong Un summit would not have received the green light without the work done by Andrew Kim.