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Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state Rex Tillerson calls Russia a ‘danger’ in confirmation hearing

Courier Mail 2017-01-11 21:32:00

US PRESIDENT-ELECT Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state, former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, says America should assert its interests and called Russia a “danger” to the nation.

Mr Tillerson told his confirmation hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he would help usher in a new era of US leadership on the global stage as America’s top diplomat.

Unlike Trump, who has played down the allegations of Russian interference in the presidential campaign, Mr Tillerson said recent Russian actions “disregarded American interests” and alarmed US allies, even if co-operation between Washington and Moscow remained desirable on a range of issues. He also took aim at the outgoing Obama administration for failing to live up to “good intentions,” withdrawing from critical areas and sending mixed signals to both friends and adversaries.

media_cameraRex Tillerson (C) arrives for questioning in his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on January 11, 2017 in Washington, DC. Picture: AP.

“China has emerged as an economic power in global trade, and our interactions have been both friendly and adversarial,” he said.

“While Russia seeks respect and relevance on the global stage, its recent activities have disregarded American interests.

“Adversaries like Iran and North Korea pose grave threats to the world because of their refusal to conform to international norms.” Tillerson, who has a two-decade relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and received from him the Order of Friendship in 2013, said the former Cold War adversary “poses a danger” that must be taken seriously. “We must also be clear-eyed about our relationship with Russia,” Tillerson said.

“Russia today poses a danger, but it is not unpredictable in advancing its own interests. It has invaded Ukraine, including the taking of Crimea, and supported Syrian forces that brutally violate the laws of war. Our NATO allies are right to be alarmed at a resurgent Russia.”

Originally published as Tillerson calls Russia a ‘danger’