President Donald Trump's National Security Adviser John Bolton is reportedly being kept out of discussions with North Korea because of his aggressive statements about using military force against the reclusive nation and its nuclear arsenal.
According to CNN, Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have clashed in recent weeks on the matter.
Pompeo has taken the lead on the North Korea negotiations and has twice met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Pompeo was also in the Oval Office with Trump and North Korean Vice Chairman Kim Yong Chol on June 1. Bolton, however, was not in the room.
After Bolton referenced the "Libya model" in dealing with North Korea during an April interview, the latter reacted with a strongly worded statement about the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
CNN reported Pompeo also got into it with Bolton, and eventually told Trump it would be "counterproductive" to include Bolton in the aforementioned Oval Office meeting.
"There has been considerable tension between them ever since," a source told CNN.
The Libya model refers to the denuclearization of Libya, which occurred in the 2000s in exchange for sanctions relief. Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was ultimately killed during a 2011 uprising.
Two people familiar with the relationship between Pompeo and Bolton said Pompeo is skeptical of Bolton and does not trust his views on dealing with North Korea. The Trump administration is in the midst of a peace process it hopes will end with North Korea abandoning its nuclear program.
A National Security Council spokesman told CNN that reports of a feud are not true.
"Any rumor of a confrontation between Amb. Bolton and Secretary Pompeo is categorically false," the spokesman said.
Trump and Kim will meet face to face at an historic June 12 summit in Singapore.
Despite talking tough on North Korea for several years, Bolton said last month the U.S. is prepared to trade and invest with North Korea if the nuclear negotiations are productive.
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