Tillerson laments sour ties with Russian Federation, but holds out hope

Geneva Matthews
August 3, 2017

One State Department official said Tillerson "leaned on Palmieri heavily" for Western Hemisphere issues, including in formulating the newly unveiled sanctions on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and a summit with Central American leaders in June.

Tilllerson's remarks were in contrast with those of Vice President Mike Pence, who said the bill showed Trump and Congress speaking "with a unified voice". "And so I think the fact that they felt the need to take symmetrical action -- and that's the way they view it -- is that they were delayed in taking this action, and I think President Putin has said that". At the same time, he stressed that Washington doesn't blame Beijing for North Korea's behavior, while reinforcing Trump's point that the USA wants greater Chinese determination on the matter.

"There's paranoia and inertia - decisions are not being made", a State Department official told the website.

At the White House, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday that Trump would sign the sanctions bill into law, but she could not say when that would happen. In June, Trump pulled the USA out of the Paris climate change accord against Tillerson's advice.

"I think the American people want the two most powerful nuclear nations in the world to have a better relationship", Tillerson said. "Does it make our lives more hard?" Holding out hope for warmer ties, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he'd meet with his Russian counterpart within days. "Of course it makes our life more hard".

"We confirm the information that the U.S. side circulated yesterday: the meeting between Sergey Lavrov and Rex Tillerson in Manila is being prepared by us, it remains to agree on a specific time and some other organizational aspects", Ryabkov said.

Tillerson also expressed alarm about Venezuela, and suggested that the United States would be pleased if President Nicolas Maduro made a decision to leave office. "And then we'll just work with it", Tillerson added.

Tillerson has not filled almost 200 senior posts in the department, having resisted putting many people in place while he carries out a State Department restructuring so he can fulfill Trump's request to slash $10 billion from its budget.

"After the Ministers endorse the Framework, we expect them to task the Joint Working Group to begin discussions on the actual Code", said DFA spokesman Robespierre Bolivar. "We have differences, but I think if we're not having those differences I'm not sure that I am serving him".

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