- The Washington Times - Friday, September 22, 2017

Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson denied reports on Friday that Nikki Haley was making a run for his job.

“I think we have a secretary of state currently, and I think he’s planning on hanging around,” Mr. Tillerson said on ABC News.

Mr. Tillerson was responding to reports that Ms. Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, was positioning herself to take over for him as secretary of state. Ms. Haley has also denied these reports.

Mr. Tillerson said that he’s focused on his work, and one of his priorities is trying to ease the tense relationship between the U.S. and Russia to try and find some common ground.

“I’ve said to [Russian President] Vladimir Putin I’m still the same man. I’m just wearing a different hat now, and I represent the America people. The president asked me to engage with Russia, to lead the engagement with Russia,” Mr. Tillerson said.

Mr. Tillerson, former CEO of Exxon, worked with Mr. Putin in a business capacity prior to his confirmation as secretary of state.

“Obviously, the relationship is very strained today, but it is important that the two greatest nuclear powers in the world find a way, find areas of common interest, that they can work together,” Mr. Tillerson said.

He also said that he’s been in contact with both Russia and China on the issue of North Korea. He said those two countries can help put pressure on the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, to tame the threat of nuclear action against the U.S. and its allies.

“We are quite challenged, but our diplomatic efforts continue unabated. We have put in place the strongest economic sanctions assembled against Kim Jong-un, so he is being tested with these sanctions,” he said. “We are engaging with North Korea’s most important supporters, economic supporters, their friends, China and Russia, to have them also engage with Kim Jong-un on this issue.”

 

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