Russian, US diplomats discuss North Korea

Tillerson Says Trump's Twitter Use Not a Hindrance to State Dept: 'I Don't View It as an Obstacle'

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has no plans to meet his North Korean counterpart at a regional gathering in the Philippines later this week, a U.S. official said Wednesday.

He said that both the United States and Russian Federation are committed to the defeat of ISIS and its allies, and to the future stability of Syria.

A former senior State Department official told Politico that Tillerson's spokesman, R.C. Hammond, expressed hesitation because Tillerson was working on coming to better terms with Russian Federation over the war in Syria and other sensitive issues. That $60 million from the Defense Department could expire by September 30 if he doesn't request a transfer.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on June 13. The money from the Defense Department will expire on September 30 unless it's transferred by Tillerson.

Russia, for its part, announced countermeasures, including cutting the total number of personnel employed in US diplomatic and consular offices in Russia, and suspending the use of a summer residence in Moscow.

"What we're seeing is a small group of people with very thin knowledge making all the decisions in a very centralized and isolated process".

Tillerson also defended a broad reorganization of the State Department that he has undertaken.


The State Department did not respond to Newsweek's request for comment on why the money hadn't been spent and what it has been set aside for.

Some officials said that Tillerson may not understand the details of the funding or he may not be aware of what his aides are doing.

This will also be an opportunity to make further progress on the long list of priorities that were initially set out in the U.S. -ASEAN strategic partnership inked under the Obama administration back in 2015, some of which have continued to be discussed under Trump, including at the Special US-ASEAN Meeting in May (See: "The Real Challenge for US-ASEAN Relations Under Trump").

Trump has preserved the deal for now, although he has made clear he did so reluctantly after being advised to do so by Tillerson.

The Trump administration has filled other top Latin America posts with security-heavy experts, including retired Army Colonel Sergio de la Peña as deputy assistant secretary of defense for the region and career Central Intelligence Agency veteran Juan Cruz as National Security Council director for Western Hemisphere affairs.

In a briefing to reporters at the State Department Tuesday, Tillerson said that "neither the president nor I were very happy" about Congress's recent decision to pass a bill to block the president from lifting those and other USA sanctions against Russian Federation without congressional approval.

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