Tillerson warns against steps that cut off talks with Russia

Tillerson testifies before Foreign Relations and a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Tuesday, then before House Foreign Affairs and appropriations panels on Wednesday.

Tillerson spoke at a wide-ranging budget hearing in which he also discussed Trump's China policy and said he expected the administration to complete a review of Afghan policy in the coming weeks. Citing alleged Russia's "interference" in the 2016 presidential election in the U.S., as well as the situations in Crimea and in Syria, the senators say they want new sanctions imposed on Moscow. Until we have a person who runs for president who says they'll going serve one term, and they're going to try to deal with these issues, unfortunately, we're heading to a place that, to me, is a fiscal calamity.

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. "Should our allies start making plans that rely less on U.S. leadership and USA support?" he asked. "It effectively withdraws American leadership from around the world".

The administration is asking for $25.6 billion for the core budget of the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), plus $12 billion for overseas contingency operations.

New Jersey Democratic Sen.

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. The Obama administration previously presented the U.S.as 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.

"They have changed their policy, at least I have been informed they've changed their policy", Mr Tillerson said.

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And he disagreed with the view, raised by many Democrats, that President Donald Trump's foreign policy decisions along with the State Department's failure to fill hundreds of vacancies are undermining USA leadership and values.

"As reports of hate crimes against Jews continue to rise in the United States and around the world, it is essential that Secretary Tillerson fill the Special Envoy position immediately".

"I take a completely counter view to the way you've interpreted to the president's actions and what the administration has had underway", Tillerson told Connecticut Sen. He said the USA will continue to be in its leadership role, but its allies must do their part.

He cited North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as an example.

"At some point", the top United States diplomat added, "he's going to become disinterested".

However, Tillerson did not give any names of the said countries.

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