Speed Reads

op-ed

Rex Tillerson praises State Department's handling of 'immense challenges'

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave the State Department an A rating for the work done in 2017, writing in a New York Times op-ed published Wednesday night that despite dealing with "immense challenges" like North Korea and Russia, progress has been made toward "global peace and stability."

President Trump identified North Korea as the United States' "greatest security threat," Tillerson wrote, and since he "abandoned the failed policy of strategic patience" for "a policy of pressure through diplomatic and economic sanctions," North Korea should feel pushed into "serious negotiations on the abandonment of its nuclear and ballistic missile programs." He also said China "could and should do more" to "exert its decisive economic leverage on Pyongyang" and when it comes to Russia, "we have no illusions about the regime we are dealing with. The United States today has a poor relationship with a resurgent Russia that has invaded its neighbors Georgia and Ukraine in the last decade and undermined the sovereignty of Western nations by meddling in our election and others."

At the same time, it's important to work with Russia where "mutual interests intersect," like in Syria. Tillerson said he's "confident" Russia will fully participate in peace talks in Geneva, and those will ultimately lead to "a Syria that is free of Bashar al-Assad and his family." Read more of Tillerson's praise for the State Department at The New York Times.