US President Donald Trump rejected as “fake news” the media reports of the ouster of his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson but acknowledged his disagreements with his top diplomat.
For the past two days, US media has been reporting that the White House has planned to replace Tillerson with the CIA Director Mike Pompeo as the new Secretary of State. Both the White House and the State Department have refuted the reports.
“The media has been speculating that I fired Rex Tillerson or that he would be leaving soon – FAKE NEWS! Trump said in a tweet.
“He’s not leaving and while we disagree on certain subjects, (I call the final shots) we work well together and America is highly respected again!” Trump said as he linked the tweet to the swearing-in of Tillerson in his Oval Office early this year.
Tillerson would be leaving Monday on a three-nation European tour. He would be travelling to Brussels, Vienna and Paris from December 4 to 8.
On December 4, he will arrive in Brussels, where he will meet with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and attend the NATO Foreign Ministers Meeting on December 5 and 6.
While in Brussels, he will also meet with senior Belgian officials, as well as EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and the foreign ministers of the 28 European Union member states to discuss US-EU cooperation on major global issues, the State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said.
On December 7 in Vienna, he will attend the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Ministerial Council, hosted by the OSCE Chairman-in Office, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz.
There he will attend the opening and first plenary sessions, together with ministers from the 57 OSCE participating states.
He will also meet separately with Foreign Minister Kurz to discuss combatting violent extremism, curbing nuclear proliferation, promoting democratic and economic reform in the Western Balkans, and deepening bilateral trade ties.
Finally, Tillerson will travel to Paris to meet with senior French leaders to discuss our deep cooperation on issues of mutual concern around the world, including in Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, the DPRK, and the Sahel, in addition to other areas of bilateral interest, Nauert said