Published: Thu, June 15, 2017
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Tillerson Warns Against Steps That Cut Off Talks With Russia

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Tuesday he stood by the Trump administration's plan for steep cuts in the country's diplomatic and foreign aid budget, as critics charged that such reductions would ultimately be harmful to America.

He said the North Korea issue would be discussed with China, Pyongyang's major ally, at a high-level talks next week.

"It is important as we engage with them that we are able to fulfill our commitments to Taiwan, which we have every intention of doing", Tillerson told a congressional committee. "They are extremely complex in many regards", he said.

Instead, he said, the budget represents a disaster for desperate people living under repressive regimes and "effectively withdraws American leadership around the world".

"The entire world has no idea where we stand with respect to the dispute between the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) and Qatar", said Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, a foreign relations committee member.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wrote in a statement endorsing the package, based on the lie that the Democrats lost the election because of the mythical Russian interference. We're not going to set the burden down. "Can we ask the Israeli government to withhold payment to IDF soldiers?" he asked rhetorically.

"He has not made that decision yet, to my knowledge", Tillerson told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

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.

Engel said the approach suggested by Tillerson would send the wrong signal to Russian Federation. "What comes out of Congress is likely not going to resemble what is being presented today".

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.

The Trump proposal would cut funding for the State Department by about 32% with broad cuts to programs focused on security, economic growth and humanitarian aid, as well as in contributions to global organizations like the UN.

Israel continuously argues that their payments promote violence. The Obama administration previously presented the an advocate for Ukraine's sovereignty and demanded that Russian Federation cease its occupation of Crimea as well as its support for armed rebels in eastern Ukraine.

North Korea is believed to be making progress toward developing a ballistic missile capable of reaching the US.

Lawmakers have noted that because the role was created by statute, the Trump administration can not eliminate the post.

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