Tillerson receives a cold reception from European allies



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BRUSSELS – Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's trip to Europe, normally friendly territory, underscores the difficulties of defending Trump's administration policies against skeptical allies and his own highly criticized management of the State Department.

Federica Mogherini, the foreign policy chief of the European Union, struck one of the first blows when she offered a surprisingly unadorned critique of two key administration policies. Standing next to Tillerson, he told reporters that it would be unwise for the United States to move away from Iran's nuclear agreement and suggested that moving the US embbady in Israel to Jerusalem would undermine Middle East peace efforts.

Tillerson also faces criticism inside. In a routine meeting with employees of the US Embbady. UU In Brussels, Tillerson defended the administration's policies and its own performance. He deviated from his standard speech scheme to say that the State Department under his command "does not lose the rhythm". Moments later, he acknowledged the lack of great diplomatic successes, although he insisted that the foundations had been laid.

"While we" I still do not have any gains on the board, I can say that we are in a much better position to advance the interests of the United States around the world than 10 months ago, "he said.

more, the allies do not share that evaluation Tillerson receives a cold and sententious reception in Europe, surprising for a diplomat who represents a country that considers itself the leader of democracies with shared values ​​and principles.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (4th L), the German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel (2nd R) and the French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian (3rd R) attend a meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday, as part of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers (Virginia Mayo / AFP / Getty Images)

Shortly after Tillerson arrived in Brussels, he was followed by a line of foreign affairs ministers That they expressed their disapproval.

Not so long ago, it would have been strange for European allies to show their differences so crudely. The criticism on Tuesday was a measure of Europe's less respect for the United States, and also of the political benefits of hitting Trump against European audiences who are deeply skeptical of the US leader.

One after another, the main diplomats from Germany and Luxembourg and Belgium listed their disagreements about the agreement with Iran and the possible recognition of Trump from Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

"That's oil in the fire," said Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn as he headed to a meeting with Tillerson along with other E.U. Foreign Ministers, speaking of his government's vision of the consequences of recognizing Jerusalem. The Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Didier Reynders, urged to avoid "any provocation" that could ensue. [

[ Trump's policies begin to "crumble" the traditional relations between the United States and Europe, warns the German Minister of Foreign Affairs

Gabriel echoed the concern, hours after to deliver a fiery speech in Berlin that offered a deeply pessimistic view of the future of US relations. UU And Germany.

"The current American withdrawal under Trump from its role as reliable guarantor of Western multilateralism accelerates the change in the global order," Gabriel said at the Körber Foundation in Berlin. The setback "will not fundamentally change even after the next elections".

R.C. Hammond, a senior contributor to Tillerson, said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg disagreed with Gabriel's statement during a meeting with Tillerson that the European Union can do it alone. He said Stoltenberg told Tillerson that NATO relies on US and British contributions to cover its military expenditures.

Hammond also disputed the characterization that Tillerson's counterparts showed a certain coldness.

"That sounds like partners in communication," he said about the public differences listed by the diplomats.

"The allies have been very frank today in sharing some of their opinions," he added. "Dialogues only work if they go in two ways."

To complicate his task, Tillerson arrived in Brussels, his first stop on a trip from three countries, with his authority to speak on behalf of the administration under attack.

Last week, after months of growing criticism that Tillerson's remote management style and staffing decisions were destroying the State Department, White House officials reported that Tillerson's mandate might be over. in a matter of weeks. Later, the White House denied wanting to get rid of Tillerson, and Tillerson himself dismissed the reports as "laughable."

[White House readies plan to replace Tillerson with Pompeo at State, install Cotton at CIA]

Tillerson appeared publicly without flinching over speculation about his political disappearance. He ignored a question shouting if he still speaks for the president. But the underlying dissatisfaction with his stewardship overshadowed Tillerson throughout the day.

In his comments to embbady employees, a standard event designed to show appreciation for his work, the former chief executive of ExxonMobil suggested that he feels upset by the disparaged evaluations of a state. The department declined under his leadership.

"We are still waiting for many nominees to clean up the process and confirm themselves," he said, referring to dozens of senior positions that are being temporarily filled by officials who badume "acting" roles. "I get a little criticism for that from time to time."

Tillerson praised the staff members who have been pressured by the offices on duty for the past 10 months, and said: "The State Department does not miss a second because we" I am still working on the process. "

He told the badembled employees that within the next few weeks he will reveal some of the changes expected from his State Department reorganization effort:" In which everyone seems to be an expert, "he added, ironically

Addressing the European Union offices to talk with Mogherini and a duck bad lunch, Tillerson was unperturbed when Mogherini criticized Trump's policies on Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

[Uncertainty and anger rise as Trump keeps alive dispute over moving U.S. Embbady to Jerusalem]

In a clear allusion to the administration's deliberations on the transfer of the embbady to Jerusalem, he praised the two-state solution: one state for Israel and one for the Palestinians.

"We believe that any action that undermines this effort should be absolutely avoided, "he said.

He also questioned a basic principle of the administration's approach to Iran, US officials say they want to work to Europe to obtain a follow-up agreement with Iran that addresses its ballistic missile tests and the role it plays in the conflicts afflicting other countries in the region.

"We have discussed the fact that there are other issues that we should discuss and address together, but they are not under the scope of the nuclear agreement," he said. "And therefore, we are willing to address them outside of the agreement itself."

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