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Policy should be 'adaptable' while values remain uncompromised, Tillerson says

Rex Tillerson on Meet the Press

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in an interview with NBC's Chuck Todd on Sunday pushed back against criticism Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) lobbed at his approach to foreign policy in a recent New York Times op-ed.

McCain originally went after Tillerson for the secretary of state's assertion that "in some circumstances, if you condition our national security efforts on someone adopting our values, we probably can't achieve our national security goals." "With those words, Secretary Tillerson sent a message to oppressed people everywhere," McCain argued: "'Don't look to the United States for hope.'"

"America's values of freedom, of treatment of people, human dignity, freedom of expression throughout the world ... serve as the boundaries as we develop our foreign policy approaches and our diplomatic efforts," Tillerson told Todd on Meet the Press. "But I make a distinction between values and policy. A policy has to be tailored to the individual situation. To the country. To its circumstances."

The best way to promote American values, Tillerson maintained, is to achieve U.S. "diplomatic and national security objectives" that can "create the conditions for the advancement of freedom." Watch the full Tillerson interview below; Todd brings up the McCain article around the 10-minute mark. Bonnie Kristian