Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani "doesn't speak for the administration" on foreign policy with North Korea, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday at The White House.
Speaking ahead of the upcoming G-7 and U.S-North Korea summits, Pompeo distanced the White House from Giuliani's head-turning suggestion Wednesday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "got back on his hands and knees and begged" Trump for a meeting.
Pompeo emphasized that he thought Giuliani was not "being serious" and was speaking "in jest," and that the administration is focused on the "important things" and "moving forward."
"I know Rudy doesn't speak for the administration when it comes to this negotiation and this set of issues," Pompeo said.
Giuliani reportedly said Wednesday that after Trump sent a letter to Kim calling off the June 12 talks in Singapore, Kim “got back on his hands and knees and begged for it, which is exactly the position you want to put him in.”
Pompeo also told reporters that Kim has personally assured him that he wants to rid the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons -- which the White House has called an essential goal of the upcoming U.S.-Korean summit.
"I haven't spent that much time with him," Pompeo said, referring to Kim Jong Un. "He has indicated to me personally that he is prepared to denuclearize -- that he understands that the current model doesn't work.
"He understands we can't do it the way we've done it before," Pompeo added. "That this has to be big, and bold, and we have to agree to make major changes."
Pompeo also took a shot at the Obama administration, saying that the White House may try to seek the support of Congress to ensure that any deal reached with North Korea is a lasting one.
"We are hopeful that we will put ourselves in a position where we can put ourselves in a position the previous administration didn't do," Pompeo said. "They signed a flimsy piece of paper, and we're hoping to summit a document that Congress would also have a say in," in an apparent reference to a treaty or other binding document.
If that happens, Pompeo said, "when administrations do change, as they inevitably do and this one will six-and-a-half years from now ... Chairman Kim will have comfort that American policy will continue down the same path, on the course that we hope we're able to set in Singapore."
The secretary of state said the progress so far with North Korea, including the regime's decision to free three U.S. hostages after a visit from Pompeo, is a sign Trump's strategy is working.
"In early 2017, the Trump administration decided on a policy called the 'maximum pressure campaign,'" with the goal of "setting the conditions for the DPRK to make the strategic decision to denuclearize" to ensure its own stability, Pompeo said. "The president's bold decision to meet with Kim Jong Un grew from this incredibly strong and targeted campaign."
But the hard work isn't over yet, Pompeo said, and Trump will approach the negotiating table with caution.
"You can be assured President Trump will not stand for a bad deal."
"President Trump is going into the summit with his eyes wide open," Pompeo said. "You can be assured President Trump will not stand for a bad deal."
Still, Pompeo sounded a note of optimism, both for the negotiations ahead and North Korea generally.
"There is a brighter path for North Korea and its people" if it denuclearizes, Pompeo said. "We believe that Kim Jong Un shares this positive vision for the future."
Earlier Thursday, Trump said at a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the White House that the United States would like to pursue normalizing relations with North Korea as part of his planned talks with Kim Jong Un.
Trump also vowed that he would "certainly" invite the North Korean leader to visit the United States if summit negotiations in Singapore next week go well.
But the president, who said the success of the summit hinged on "attitude" rather than extensive preparation, made clear he will take a tough negotiating stance with the rogue regime.
"They have to de-nuke," Trump said of North Korea. "If they don't denuclearize that will not be acceptable. And we cannot take sanctions off."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.