World Bulletin / News Desk
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will skip a NATO meeting in April but travel to Russia the same month, officials said Tuesday, fuelling fears about Washington's commitment to the alliance.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping is expected to visit Trump at his Florida golf resort at some point in early April, and Tillerson would be expected to attend, but State Department officials gave no public explanation for his decision to skip Brussels.
Instead, they insisted Tillerson will in any case meet most of the foreign ministers from the 28-nation military alliance at the State Department in Washington this week at a meeting of the coalition fighting the Islamic State group.
"He has already met with officials from Ukraine. After these consultations and meetings, in April he will travel to a meeting of the G7 in Italy and then on to meetings in Russia," one senior US official said.
In Brussels, the United States will be represented by Tom Shannon, the highest ranking career diplomat left in the State Department from the previous administration and Tillerson's acting deputy.
After almost two months in the job, Tillerson has yet to appoint a deputy or any assistant secretaries and he has adopted a low-profile stance, avoiding public and press events and working with a small inner circle of advisers.
The administration, meanwhile, has been scrambling to reaffirm its commitment Washington's military alliances -- including NATO -- after Trump called into question their usefulness during his campaign.
Just last week -- after meeting Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House -- Trump took to Twitter to claim that Germany owes "vast sums of money to NATO and the United States," reviving his charge that US allies are not paying their way.Güncelleme Tarihi: 21 Mart 2017, 17:38