Japan 'surprised' at Tillerson's dismissal as USA secretary of state

Ann Santiago
March 14, 2018

President Trump's decision to fire Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday had members of Maine's congressional delegation focusing on his replacement, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and the challenges he will face from Russian Federation and North Korea if he is confirmed by the Senate.

As for Tillerson, the former Exxon Mobil CEO whom Trump picked as his administration's top Cabinet official, the president said simply, "we disagreed on things".

Tillerson's sacking comes shortly after Trump, without consulting his top diplomat, chose to accept an invitation to talks with North Korea's Kim Jong-Un on resolving the Korean nuclear stand-off.

The president, of course, took notice. After the agreement was completed in 2015, Pompeo worked tirelessly as a member of Congress to meet with European bankers, diplomats and CEOs to make the case that investing in Iran was not as safe as they were hearing from John Kerry, who was secretary of state at the time. "When Mike is over in, say, the Koreas or over dealing with Russian Federation or the Middle East, I think people are going to know that he speaks for the president". "Really, it was a different mind-set, a different thinking".

He said he made the decision to sack his secretary of state "by myself" and suggested Mr Tillerson will be "much happier now". Pompeo was brought into the White House Friday after returning from an overseas trip and was offered the job formally by phone Saturday.

Even after Tuesday's announcement, the White House and Tillerson aides were still struggling to determine when and how Tillerson would exit.

"It's a surprise, but Japan-U.S. ties won't be shaken".

The undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, Steve Goldstein, said Mr Tillerson "had every intention of staying" in the job because he felt he was making critical progress in national security.

Outgoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned in his farewell remarks on Tuesday that Washington must do more to respond to Russia's "troubling behavior and actions". So far, Trump has kept the U.S.in the deal despite his misgivings.

"He must be asked whether he will put our nation's interests above loyalty oaths to the president's personal agenda", Pingree said in a prepared statement.

Critics said the move would sow more instability in the volatile Trump administration and marks the departure of another moderate who sought to emphasise the United States' strong ties to its allies amid Trump's criticism. Top economic adviser Gary Cohn announced his resignation last week, not long after communications director Hope Hicks and staff secretary Rob Porter both departed near the start of Trump's second year in office.

While some intelligence officers have been impressed by Pompeo's intellect and his advocacy of more robust covert operations, others have said privately that he has used his face-to-face briefings with Trump to selectively feed him intelligence rather than providing unvarnished assessments. Schultzin said Pompeo is also more confrontational, especially toward China.

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