Trump fires chief diplomat Tillerson after clashes, taps Pompeo

Tue 13 Mar 2018 at 16:54 International
NNA - U.S. President Donald Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday after a series of public rifts over policy on North Korea, Russia and Iran, replacing his chief diplomat with loyalist CIA Director Mike Pompeo. The biggest shakeup of Trumps Cabinet since he took office in January 2017 was announced by the president on Twitter as his administration prepares for an unprecedented meeting with the leader of North Korea.


Trump tapped the CIAs deputy director, Gina Haspel, to replace Pompeo at the intelligence agency.


Tillersons departure caps months of friction between the Republican president and the 65-year-old former Exxon Mobil chief executive. The tensions peaked last fall amid reports Tillerson had called Trump a "moron" and considered resigning.


"Weve been talking about this for a long time," Trump said on the White House lawn on Tuesday."We got along actually quite well but we disagreed on things."


He cited the Iran nuclear deal as an example of disagreements with Tillerson and said he and Pompeo have "a similar thought process."


Senior State Department officials said Tillerson was unaware of why Trump pushed him out and that he had intended to stay in the job.


On Monday, Tillerson blamed Russia for the poisonings in England of a former Russian double agent and his daughter. Earlier, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders had refrained from saying Moscow was responsible.


A senior White House official said Trump asked Tillerson to step down on Friday but did not want to make it public while he was on a trip to Africa. Trumps Twitter announcement came only a few hours after Tillerson landed in Washington after the trip, which had been cut short.


The official said Trump works well with Pompeo, a former Republican congressman from Kansas, and wanted him in place before the U.S. presidents planned talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and trade negotiations.


Tillerson had no diplomatic or political experience before becoming secretary of state. He appeared out of the loop last week when Trump announced he would meet with North Koreas Kim.


Stocks pared gains on the Tillerson news, but then stabilized. S&P futures were last up 0.3 percent.


"Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!" Trump said on Twitter. -- REUTERS



=========D.K.

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