Tillerson Urges US Senate To Approve Montenegro's NATO Bid

So far he has navigated his first official trip to meet with G20 foreign ministers in Bonn, Germany in mid February, a March trip to Asia where he shored up America's relationship with China, and a Trump budget that proposes to slash $10bn (£8bn) from his department.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg refused to address questions concerning Mr. Tillerson's schedule before a meeting with Mr. Mattis at the Pentagon earlier in the day, saying only, "I think we all understand that in times of turmoil, in times of uncertainty, the need for strong global institutions like NATO is even greater". Past secretaries of state have nearly always attended the gatherings.

He is also scheduled to visit Russian Federation in April after a Group of 7 meeting in Italy, a State Department spokesperson told Reuters.

Corker told reporters on Tuesday that he supported efforts to make State Department programs more efficient, but wanted a more thorough review of various programs.

Trump has often praised Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Tillerson worked with Russia's government for years as a top executive at Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N), and has questioned the wisdom of sanctions against Russia that he said could harm USA businesses.

The State Department has not specified what the clash is in Tillerson's schedule, but President Donald Trump is expected to host Chinese President Xi Jinping for a highly anticipated meeting around the same time.




"It feeds this narrative that somehow the Trump administration is playing footsie with Russian Federation", said the former USA official on condition of anonymity.

Mr. Mattis, who has publicly championed North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, attempted to ease the diplomatic row, saying details of an American delegation heading to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation meeting were being hashed out by administration officials.

Today (22 March) Tillerson will lead a meeting in Washington DC of foreign ministers and senior leaders of the 68-nation coalition working to defeat Isis.

The State Department spokeswoman said Tillerson would not have a separate, NATO-focused meeting the 26 foreign ministers in Washington but rather that they would meet in the counter-Islamic State talks. The NATO chief said he agreed on the need for more defense spending across Europe and Canada and for the alliance to step up contributions in fighting terrorism.

Many of Trump's fellow Republicans, as well as Democrats, objected to his first budget outline last week, which boosted military spending and cut worldwide programs by 28 percent.

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