Speaking to reporters at the White House, Mr. Pompeo at first dismissed reports of a rift as “fiction,” before conceding, “Ambassador Bolton and I will disagree with great, great consistency over time, I’m confident, right? We’re two individuals. We’re each going to present our views.”
Mr. Trump’s enthusiasm for a meeting with Mr. Kim has remained constant, even though he briefly canceled the encounter in response to a series of hostile statements by the North Koreans.
Earlier Thursday, the president said he did not think the meeting required a great deal of preparation on his part. “This isn’t a question of preparation,” he told reporters in the Oval Office. “It’s a question of whether people want it to happen.”
For Mr. Abe, the visit amounted to a last-ditch effort to stiffen Mr. Trump’s spine before he flies to Singapore. Mr. Trump’s more conciliatory tone in the past few days has alarmed the Japanese, who worry that he might trade the security of the United States’ Asian allies for a deal with Mr. Kim on nuclear weapons.
Mr. Trump has stepped back from his demand that North Korea give up its entire nuclear arsenal immediately, calling it a “process.” He also said he would stop using the phrase “maximum pressure” to describe the sanctions against the North, even though he insisted that they would remain in place.
Mr. Abe has been on edge since March, when Mr. Trump accepted Mr. Kim’s offer to meet. In April, the Japanese leader flew to the president’s estate in Palm Beach, Fla., for two days of meetings, after which Mr. Trump pledged to raise the plight of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea — an issue that has enormous domestic political resonance for Mr. Abe.
But Mr. Trump did not single out North Korea’s short- and medium-range missiles, which threaten Japan but not the continental United States. Some Japanese analysts worry that he could make a deal with Mr. Kim that curbs its intercontinental ballistic missiles — protecting the United States — while leaving intact its shorter-range missiles.