Rex Tillerson Starts Senate Committee Hearing

By | Jan 11, 2017 11:44 AM EST
Rex Tillerson

Tillerson has blamed Russia's resurgence on lack of American leadership.(Photo : Getty Images)

Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump's pick for secretary of state, said that a lack of American leadership has emboldened Russia.

Speaking during the Senate committee hearing, the former CEO of Exxon Mobil said that "Russia today poses a danger" and urged for "open and frank dialogue." Tillerson added that defeating the Islamic State terror group must be the United State's priority in the Middle East.

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In his opening statement, Tillerson said that old ideas and international norms, which were well-understood and governed past behaviors, may no longer be effective in current times.

He further noted that China has emerged as a formidable economic power in global trade and that bilateral interactions between the two countries have at times been adversarial. He also said that Iran and North Korea pose serious threats to the world because of their refusal to conform to international norms.

Tillerson also warned Americans to be clear-eyed about the United State's relations with Russia, adding that although today Moscow poses a great danger, it is not unpredicatable that it is trying to advance its own interests.

"It (Russia) has invaded Ukraine, including the taking of Crimea, and supported Syrian forces that brutally violate the laws of war," Tillerson said, adding that NATO is right to be alarmed at a resurgent Russia.

On Wednesday, the 64-year-old Tillerson faced tough questions from some members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. This is in light of the latest US media reports that the Russian intelligence agencies have compromising information on Trump.

Tillerson's connections to Russia have drawn a lot of criticism. He has struck multi-billion dollar deals with Rosneft, Russia's state oil company.

He also spoke of the international sanctions placed on Russia.

The Texas millionaire, however, added that Russia's growing strength has been brought about by the absence of an American leadership.

Trump has labeled the claims a "political witch hunt," with Russia saying that the allegations are "pulp fiction" and a "clear attempt to damage relations."

In 2013, Tillerson was awarded an Order of Friendship by the Kremlin.

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