U.S. diplomacy in disarray as Trump-Kim summit looms

Pauline Gross
March 15, 2018

As they prepared for a new leader, diplomats and civil servants at the State Department expressed relief and trepidation on Wednesday after the stunning firing of Rex Tillerson, whose tenure as secretary of state was one of the most contentious in recent memory.

The elevation of Deputy Director of the CIA Gina Haspel, a 30-year veteran of the agency, to be its first female director is both historic and wise.

Ousted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson walks at the State Department after speaking there Tuesday.

The comedian's comment was a reference to an interview DeVos did with CBS's "60 Minutes" on Sunday night, in which the education secretary struggled to answer basic questions regarding schools in her home state of MI. "We have a very similar thought process".

Pompeo defended the president's move but stressed the US and its allies will continue to press North Korea in advance of any Trump-Kim summit. "But rumors have swirled for about six months that the Trump-Tillerson relationship was in bad shape".

Besides her record on torture, Haspel will be pressed on the CIA's views of Russia, which Pompeo seemed to downplay in deference to Trump, who has labelled stories of Russian interference in the 2016 election "fake news".

I think Rex Tillerson was taken aback by the way in which the President had done this [via Twitter] and the fact that the President disregarded his device on this issue.

"The United States is determined to leave the nuclear deal, and changes at the State Department were made with that goal in mind - or at least it was one of the reasons", Abbas Araghchi said in comments carried by state news agency ISNA.

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But Tillerson wasn't just a thorn in Trump's side.

Oil rose sparking a dollar fall and concern that a deal on Iran's nuclear programme could collapse from the latest development.

But, with Tillerson gone, Sullivan will not be able to devote all of his time to the North Korean dossier; he is acting secretary of state until Pompeo can be confirmed by the Senate, not before April.

The most important qualification for any secretary of state is the trust of the president.

While Iran has reaped massive economic benefits from the accord, notably by being able to resume oil exports, it is still constrained by USA sanctions in other areas. Additional details regarding confirmation hearings will be forthcoming from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

The report in Michael Wolff's "Fire and Fury" that Tillerson had called the president an "f'.ing moron", didn't help.

Torture has since been explicitly outlawed by the government, and despite Trump's endorsement of it, there have been no reports of the USA intelligence agencies returning to the practice.

So there it is: at the very moment that Trump prepares to tackle the most delicate security issue facing the world, he has chosen to empower his most aggressive advisers and silence the voices of caution.

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