Tillerson warns against steps that cut off talks with Russia

Posted June 15, 2017

Aside from Cuba, America's relations with Russia were at an "all-time low" over the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, and also over alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 United States presidential elections.

Russian exports to North Korea in the first two months of this year shot up by 149 percent, according to Russian media reports, while China banned coal exports to its belligerent neighbor. "We said that this issue [payments] was not up for discussion at all, and that this has been our duty toward the prisoners and the martyrs since 1965". "They have taken steps, visible steps that we can confirm", he said. The State Department budget represents about 1% of total government spending.

Tillerson rejected that notion, saying "there are countries that we've had to withdraw support and, again, these are some of the hard choices that I've mentioned". "It effectively withdraws American leadership from around the world".

The fiscal 2018 federal budget that Trump proposed seeks $37.6 billion for the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development and other overseas assistance.

When Graham was done, the leading Democrat on the committee, Vermont Sen.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson suggested as much in testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this morning.

Senator Ben Cardin, the committee's top Democrat, sharply denounced Trump's plan.

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"My concern today, quite frankly, is that your Administration will go down in the history books as being "present at the destruction" of that order we have worked so hard to support and that has so benefited our security and prosperity and ideals", Cardin said. "I think we're really leaning into United States leadership to make it clear to these long-standing allies and very important allies and friends of ours that America has been leading for a very long time, and the American people have been reaching in their pockets and paying for this leadership for a very long time", Tillerson said.

"That work we expect to complete over the coming weeks, (to) review it with the president, make a final policy decision", he told lawmakers.

Ahead of President Trump's visit to Israel and the West Bank, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the Palestinian Authority to stop funding terrorists to "prove" they want peace.

"Those that are mandated by statute, we will be back to talk with you about those as to whether we think it's good to have it structured that way or whether we really think we can be effective on those issues in a different way", Tillerson said at the hearing.

He cited North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as an example.

We're going to punish the Russians.

"It is the Department of State and myself (who are responsible for conducting foreign policy)", Tillerson said.