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US secy of state Tillerson affirms support to Trump, denies he wanted to quit

US secretary of state Rex Tillerson also denies vice-president Mike Pence had persuaded to change his mind.

world Updated: Oct 05, 2017 20:07 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Rex Tillerson,Donald Trump,Mike Pence
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Washington. There were reports that Tillerson had called President Donald Trump a “moron” after a  meeting at the Pentagon with members of Trump’s national security team and Cabinet officials.(AP File Photo)

US secretary of state Rex Tillerson has affirmed support for President Donald Trump and denied he had wanted to resign, according to reports that had earlier said he had also called the president a “moron”.

NBC news reported early Wednesday the secretary of state was about to resign after Trump’s speech last July at the annual gathering of Boy Scouts of American, which Tillerson had once headed.

A few days prior to that, Tillerson had called Trump a “moron” after a meeting at the Pentagon with members of Trump’s national security team and Cabinet officials, the news outlet had reported, and had added that vice-president Mike Pence had persuaded to change his mind.

“My commitment to the success of our president and the country is as strong as the day I accepted his offer to serve as secretary of state,” Tillerson said and denied Pence persuaded him to stay on, arguing: “There has never been a consideration in my mind to leave. I serve at the appointment of the President and I am here for as long as the President feels I can be useful to achieving his objectives”.

“I’m not going to deal with petty stuff like that,” Tillerson said when asked about his remarks calling Trump a “moron”.

“I mean, this is what I don’t understand about Washington. Again, I’m not from this place. But the places I come from, we don’t deal with that kind of petty nonsense,” Tillerson, a former CEO of ExxonMobil, said, adding, “And it is intended to do nothing but divide people. And I’m just not going to be part of this effort to divide this administration.”

The secretary of state, who has had some very sharp public disagreements with the president on many policy issues such as how to deal with North Korea, also reaffirmed his support for Trump. “He’s smart, he demands results wherever he goes … accountability is a bedrock value of the president (that) I share.”

The secretary of state wen on to recount some achievements of the Trump administration, including the new strategy on Afghanistan building on relations with India and Pakistan, and stressed the accomplishment were those of the team working as on.

The president also reacted, calling the report “fake news” in a Tweet and sought to belittle the outlet saying, as he is known to, “They are a disgrace to good reporting. No wonder their news ratings are way down!”.

He went on to demand an apology after Tillerson’s denial.

First Published: Oct 04, 2017 23:17 IST