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US State Department denies rumours of Tillerson resignation

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The U.S. State Department flatly denied Tuesday that Secretary Rex Tillerson might be considering leaving his job.

The first question department spokeswoman Heather Nauert was asked at an on-camera news briefing was whether it was true that Tillerson was thinking about resigning or leaving the administration early.

“That is false,” Nauert said. “We have spoken with the secretary. The secretary has been very clear. He intends to stay here at the State Department. We have a lot of work that is left to be done ahead of us. He recognizes that he is deeply engaged in that work. We have meetings scheduled, he has meetings scheduled for the rest of the week here in Washington.”

Then she added: “He does, however, serve at the pleasure of the president, just as any Cabinet official would.”

When reporters noted Tillerson did not have any public events on his schedule for Tuesday, Nauert said he was taking a few days off that had been scheduled in advance.

State Department spokesman R.C. Hammond has also strongly denied any reports Tillerson may be leaving early, saying the thought of quitting has never crossed his mind and that there is plenty of work to do.

CNN report

CNN reported Monday that Tillerson had told close associates he was determined to stay at the helm of the State Department until at least the end of the year, but was growing increasingly frustrated by foreign policy differences with President Donald Trump.

FILE - U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets with the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, at the Sea Palace in Doha, Qatar, July 11, 2017.

FILE – U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets with the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, at the Sea Palace in Doha, Qatar, July 11, 2017.

Trump and Tillerson have expressed different views about the U.S. pulling out of the Paris climate change accord, Iran’s compliance with the international nuclear deal, and the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar.

In June, several media outlets reported an alleged showdown between Tillerson and a White House official in charge of personnel over the White House’s reported thwarting of Tillerson’s picks for a number of critical assistant secretary-level positions at the State Department, which remain unfilled six months into the Trump administration.

Aaron David Miller, a former Middle East negotiator for both Republican and Democratic secretaries of state who is now with the Wilson Center, a nonpartisan global policy center in Washington, told VOA the Trump administration was being run differently than any other he had seen.

“I worked for the State Department for 25 years, six secretaries of state. I have never seen anything quite like this,” he said.

Usually, Miller said, a president will find one person — “the secretary of state, almost always” — in whom to invest authority for foreign policy matters. But in the Trump administration, he said, there are multiple power centers.

Kushner assignment

Miller noted that Trump has assigned the Middle East peace process to his senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who this week answered questions from Senate and House committees as part of those panels’ investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

FILE - U.S. presidential adviser Jared Kushner, center, and his wife, Ivanka Trump, daughter of President Donald Trump, greet members of the Israeli delegation after a joint news conference between the president and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Feb. 15, 2017.

FILE – U.S. presidential adviser Jared Kushner, center, and his wife, Ivanka Trump, daughter of President Donald Trump, greet members of the Israeli delegation after a joint news conference between the president and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Feb. 15, 2017.

Kushner “has been given the authority over perhaps the one issue that secretaries of state, no matter how difficult it is, pride themselves in wanting to try, which is the Arab-Israeli issue,” Miller said. “Yet that has been removed from his purview.”

Speculation about Tillerson comes as Trump continues his verbal attacks on his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, expressing disappointment in him for recusing himself in the investigations into possible collusion between Trump officials and Russia during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.

CNN reported that Tillerson was one of many officials who viewed the president’s public rebukes of Sessions as unprofessional.

VOICE OF AMERICA

State Department Denies Rumors Tillerson Considering Resigning

The U.S. State Department flatly denied Tuesday that Secretary Rex Tillerson might be considering leaving his job. The first question department spokeswoman Heather Nauert was asked at an on-camera news briefing was whether it was true that Tillerson was thinking about resigning or leaving the administration early. “That is false,” Nauert said.

Which ‘Perennial Problem’ Might Force Rex Tillerson to Quit

On Monday, US media reported that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is thinking of leaving his post before the end of the year due to growing frustration with President Donald Trump’s administration. Russian political analyst Dmitri Zhuravlev and former diplomat Sergei Ordzhonikidze explained to Sputnik what might have triggered this decision.

Tillerson has a growing number of differences with the White House, including a new debate over US policy toward Iran, the CNN broadcaster reported on Monday.Although the former Exxon-Mobil CEO was determined to stay in his post through the end of the year, two sources told the broadcaster over the weekend that they would not be surprised if he left sooner than that.

Sputnik Radio discussed the issue with political analyst Dmitry Zhuravlev, the director of the Institute of Regional Problems, who suggested that the US Secretary of State might be frustrated with the interference into his human resources policies.

“I think the key reason for his frustration is the interference into his human resources policies. As in many other countries around the world, the ambassadors in the US are being appointed by the president but report to the head of the State Department. This contradiction remains the perennial problem for any secretary of state under any president,” Dmitry Zhuravlev told Sputnik.

With such a harsh and sweeping president as Donald Trump, he further said, this issue could become a real problem. Moreover that Rex Tillerson is not a professional diplomat and he is not quite familiar with diplomatic circles, which only complicates the situation.

It becomes even more difficult given the limited freedom in the human resource policies, the political analyst said.

“Tillerson is a good negotiator, but what a top diplomat he is if he does not know his diplomats and, according to some information, does not particularly like them? But should we blame him for this or the one who actually appointed him to this position,” Zhuravlev wondered.

In a separate comment on the issue, Sergei Ordzhonikidze, a veteran Russian diplomat who served as the director general of the United Nations (UN) Office in Geneva (2002-2011), deputy foreign minister (1999-2002) and currently heads the Russian Public Council for international cooperation and public diplomacy, explained to Sputnik that the decision of the US secretary of state might be caused by the unwillingness of the US Congress to allow him to implement his entrepreneurial ambitions in his relationship with Russia.

“As the former CEO of the large corporation Exxon-Mobil, Tillerson was interested in the development of maximum fruitful cooperation with Russia, what they were actually after in the north, in the Arctic region in particular,”  Sergei Ordzhonikidze explained to Sputnik.

“Business is business. They were very eager to gain colossal profits. Now, after the US Congress is eager to impose more sanctions on Russia, such cooperation will inevitably wind down. This can’t raise any enthusiasm of Tillerson, who is the protégé of oil-industry circles,” he added.

Sergei Ordzhonikidze also commented on the ongoing dispute over Russian diplomatic property seized by the US. Being a businessman, Tillerson realizes only too well what property rights are all about. He does not support the seizure of Russian property in the US, the former diplomat suggested.

“I think this and other examples contributed to his disputes with the White House. What foreign minister is he if he can’t return the seized diplomatic property,” he said.

Tillerson is unable to do what he desires, and that is to get back on track with developing a normal relationship with Russia.

“Surely he won’t put in jeopardy any interests of the US or of American business. However the major idea of business is to gain profit, which he is unable to do.  The difference of a businessman from a politician is that he keeps in mind any way of making profit, be it in Iran, Russia or any other country. While a politician is more prone to ideology. He has a mentality of Barack Obama: let it come to my disadvantage, but I will never do it,” Ordzhonikidze explained.

Tillerson is a very pragmatic person, he further said. He judges by what is profitable and what is not to the US. While the US Congress is ideology-driven down to the marrow. And it is impossible to build any relationship on the ideological basis.

Sergei Ordzhonikidze, however, did not rule out that the US secretary of state might have been made some interesting business offer.

SPUTNIK

Which ‘Perennial Problem’ Might Force Rex Tillerson to Quit

On Monday, US media reported that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is thinking of leaving his post before the end of the year due to growing frustration with President Donald Trump’s administration. Russian political analyst Dmitri Zhuravlev and former diplomat Sergei Ordzhonikidze explained to Sputnik what might have triggered this decision.

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