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Wednesday, 11 January 2017 12:09

Questions about Russia dominate start of Tillerson hearing

Written by  Reuters

WASHINGTON President-elect Donald Trump's pick for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, faces tough questioning at his confirmation hearing on Wednesday over his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin as both Democrats and Republicans worry about Moscow's increasingly aggressive behavior.

The central question facing Tillerson, 64, the former chairman of Exxon Mobil, is how effectively he can transform himself from a Big Oil "dealmaker" to being America's top diplomat with little government experience.

According to excerpts from his opening statement released before the hearing, Tillerson will say that Russia poses a danger and NATO allies are right to be alarmed at a resurgent Moscow.

He will argue, however, that Russia's resurgence happened in the "absence of American leadership" and will call for open and frank dialogue with Moscow.

"We must be clear-eyed about our relationship with Russia," Tillerson will say. "Russia today poses a danger but it is not unpredictable in advancing its own interests," according to the transcript of his remarks.

"We need an open and frank dialogue with Russia regarding its ambitions, so that we know how to chart our own course," he will say. He will also emphasize the need to destroy Islamic State, and will criticize China's behavior in the South China Sea and call on Beijing to pressure North Korea.

Read more at Reuters

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