Tillerson warns against steps that cut off talks with Russia

In his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson showed why he earned the Order of Friendship from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Graham questioned the strategic thinking behind numerous cuts, arguing that they are "penny wise and pound foolish" because in the long term they will undercut United States security, shortchange close allies and cede influence to rivals such as China and Russian Federation.

Speaking before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Tillerson said in reply to a question from Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), that this discussion was an important part of a larger dialogue between the Trump administration and the Palestinian authority on terrorism and the peace process. "They are extremely complex in many regards", he said.

Under sometimes caustic questioning, Tillerson said he is overseeing a modest shrinking of the State Department workforce and a rethinking of how the department does business.

In all, the Trump proposal cuts about 32 percent from USA diplomacy and aid budgets, or almost $19 billion.

U.S. senators, both Republicans and Democrats among them, agreed on new restrictive measures against Russian Federation on Tuesday.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson retreated from his department's commitment to fill the post of envoy to combat anti-Semitism, saying the effort may be more effective without one.

Tillerson told lawmakers that Palestinian leaders argued they must take care of widows and orphans, but that he told them the American people could not see any explanation for payments to terrorists, which they refer to as a 'martyr fund'. "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.

Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., the ranking Democrat on the foreign operations subcommittee, was appalled by the possibility of the position being eliminated. I took some time out to sit down with my staff, and we began going through the budget that you're presenting today.

"That's part of the conversation", the Trump administration is having with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies and others, Tillerson said.

"[President Trump] raised it, and I had a bilateral meeting with [Abbas] later and I told him-you absolutely have to stop this", Tillerson said regarding the terror payments.

He cited North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as an example. "We're not going to set the burden down, we're not going to walk away. but the world has changed".

Tillerson said it was possible that the Ukrainian government could come to an agreement with Moscow outside the structure of the 2015 accord.

CORRECTION: This article has been updated to correctly state that the State Department budget represents about 1% of total government spending.

  • Rogelio Becker