US Afghanistan: Tillerson ups pressure on Pakistan – BBC News August 23 2017


US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson addresses reporters on Afghanistan, 22 August 2017Reuters
Mr Tillerson suggested Pakistan could lose some privileges

American Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has increased pressure on Pakistan over its perceived backing for the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Pakistan denies sheltering the Taliban, but Mr Tillerson suggested it could lose US privileges if the government failed “to change their posture”.

He was speaking a day after President Donald Trump unveiled a new strategy, vowing to commit US forces to back Afghan forces fighting the insurgents.

The US is a key ally of Pakistan.

The country enjoys a special status as a non-Nato alliance partner and has received billions of dollars in aid.

But Mr Tillerson said this “could be on the table for discussion if in fact they are unwilling to change their posture or change their approach to how they are dealing with the numerous terrorist organisations that find safe haven in Pakistan.

“It is in Pakistan’s interest to take those actions.”

Nuclear power

Mr Tillerson also stressed that having a stable Pakistan was in US and other countries’ interests.

“They are a nuclear power and we have concerns about the security of their weapons. This is not a situation where the US is saying ‘this is us and you’.”

Mr Tillerson said the Taliban must be made to understand that they could not win a battlefield victory in Afghanistan. But he suggested the US might not either.

“We may not win one but neither will you,” as he put it, adding that negotiation was the way to bring the conflict to an end.

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Diplomats instructed to ‘avoid eye contact’ with Tillerson: report – BY BROOKE SEIPEL – 03/30/17 11:22 PM EDT


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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has remained relatively removed from President Trump’s administration and his own department, a new report by The Washington Post says, adding that many diplomats have yet to meet him and some have been told to avoid eye contact.

The Post report reads:

“Most of his interactions are with an insular circle of political aides who are new to the State Department. Many career diplomats say they still have not met him, and some have been instructed not to speak to him directly — or even make eye contact.”

Tillerson has kept a low profile since the inauguration. He has made very few remarks to the press and opted not to travel with a press pool.

Earlier this month, Tillerson stood by his decision not to allow reporters to travel with him on his trip to Asia, calling himself “not a big media press access person.”

Erin McPike of the right-leaning Independent Journal Review — the only reporter selected by State to travel with Tillerson — pressed the diplomat about his decision in an interview.

McPike noted China restricts press access and asked whether he’s concerned about the the message he’s sending.

Tillerson claimed the decision not to allow more reporters had to do with a desire to save money, saying the plane “flies faster, allows me to be more efficient” with fewer people on it.

Tillerson also skipped the customary visits to overseas State employees and their families during his travels, the Post reported.

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/326655-diplomats-instructed-to-avoid-eye-contact-with-tillerson-report

The State Department’s entire senior administrative team just resigned – By Josh Rogin January 26 at 11:02 AM


Washington Post senior national security correspondent Karen DeYoung talks about the unexpected resignations of senior State Department officials, and what it means for the Trump administration and international diplomacy. (The Washington Post)

Washington Post senior national security correspondent Karen DeYoung talks about the unexpected resignations of senior State Department officials, and what it means for the Trump administration and international diplomacy. (The Washington Post)

Senior State Department diplomats resign right before Tillerson takes charge

Washington Post senior national security correspondent Karen DeYoung talks about the unexpected resignations of senior State Department officials, and what it means for the Trump administration and international diplomacy. (The Washington Post)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s job running the State Department just got considerably more difficult. The entire senior level of management officials resigned Wednesday, part of an ongoing mass exodus of senior foreign service officers who don’t want to stick around for the Trump era.

Tillerson was actually inside the State Department’s headquarters in Foggy Bottom on Wednesday, taking meetings and getting the lay of the land. I reported Wednesday morning that the Trump team was narrowing its search for his No. 2, and that it was looking to replace the State Department’s long-serving undersecretary for management, Patrick Kennedy. Kennedy, who has been in that job for nine years, was actively involved in the transition and was angling to keep that job under Tillerson, three State Department officials told me.

Then suddenly on Wednesday afternoon, Kennedy and three of his top officials resigned unexpectedly, four State Department officials confirmed. Assistant Secretary of State for Administration Joyce Anne Barr, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Michele Bond and Ambassador Gentry O. Smith, director of the Office of Foreign Missions, followed him out the door. All are career foreign service officers who have served under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

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