Rex Tillerson will miss Nato talks for China meeting and visit to Russia
The U.S. secretary of state is reportedly considering skipping what would have been his first meeting of NATO foreign ministers in April to attend President Trump’s expected talks with the Chinese president.
Rex W. Tillerson, the U.S. secretary of state, is reportedly considering skipping what would have been his first meeting of NATO foreign ministers in April to attend President Trump’s expected talks with the Chinese president.
Reuters news agency reported that Tillerson intends to miss what would be his first meeting in Brussels, on 5-6 April, with the 28 Nato members to attend President Donald Trump’s expected 6-7 April talks with Chinese president Xi Jinping at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, citing four current and former US officials.
The decisions to skip the Nato meeting and to visit Moscow risked feeding a perception that Trump may be putting US dealings with big powers before those of smaller nations that depend on Washington for their security, two former US officials told Reuters.
Trump has often praised Russian president Vladimir Putin, and Tillerson worked with Russia’s government for years as a top executive at Exxon Mobil Corp and has questioned the wisdom of sanctions against Russia that he said could harm US businesses, as reported in The Guardian.
State department spokesman Mark Toner had no immediate comment on whether Tillerson would skip the Nato meeting or visit Russia. Two US officials said Tillerson planned to visit Moscow on 12 April.
“It feeds this narrative that somehow the Trump administration is playing footsy with Russia,” said one former US official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Representative Eliot Engel, the senior Democrat on the U.S. House of Representatives foreign affairs committee, said that Tillerson was making a mistake by skipping the Brussels talks.
"Donald Trump's Administration is making a grave error that will shake the confidence of America's most important alliance and feed the concern that this Administration simply too cozy with Vladimir Putin," Engel said in a written statement, as reported in Reuters.
"I cannot fathom why the Administration would pursue this course except to signal a change in American foreign policy that draws our country away from western democracy's most important institutions and aligns the United States more closely with the autocratic regime in the Kremlin," he added.