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Tillerson out as US top diplomat, to be replaced by CIA director

China Daily | Updated: 2018-03-14 07:41

WASHINGTON - US President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he had replaced secretary of state Rex Tillerson with Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo, ousting the embattled top diplomat after a series of public rifts.

Trump announced the cabinet shake-up on Twitter and said he had tapped the CIA's deputy director, Gina Haspel, to replace Pompeo at the intelligence agency. Haspel became the first woman to take the post.

Tillerson's departure represents the biggest staff change in the Trump administration so far and caps months of tensions between the Republican president and the 65-year-old former Exxon Mobil chief executive.

A senior White House official said Trump asked Tillerson to step down on Friday but did want not to announce it while he was on a trip to Africa.

The official said Trump works well with Pompeo, a former congressman from Kansas who is seen as a loyalist within the administration, and wanted him in place before the US president's planned talks with Kim Jong-un, top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and trade negotiations.

"The president wanted to make sure to have his new team in place in advance of the upcoming talks with North Korea," the official said.

Tillerson out as US top diplomat, to be replaced by CIA director

Trump and Tillerson, who had no diplomatic or political experience before becoming secretary of state, have diverged on policy numerous times, including over the DPRK and Russia.

On Monday, Tillerson sharply criticized Russia over the poisonings in England of a former spy and his daughter, directly blaming Moscow after White House press secretary Sarah Sanders stopped short of doing so.

Tillerson also appeared out of the loop last week when Trump announced he would meet with the DPRK top leader.

"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 - AFP

(China Daily 03/14/2018 page12)

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