Tillerson Reflects on Achievements as Secretary of State

Melanie Arter | March 13, 2018 | 7:28pm EDT
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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (Screenshot)

(CNSNews.com) - In a speech at the State Department, outgoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reflected on the achievements of his department, particularly when it comes to North Korea, saying they “exceeded the expectations of almost everyone” with its  “maximum pressure campaign.”

“First, working with allies, we exceeded the expectations of almost everyone with the DPRK maximum pressure campaign. With the announcement on my very first trip as Secretary of State to the region that the era of strategic patience was over, and we commenced the steps to dramatically increase not just the scope but the effectiveness of the sanctions,” Tillerson said.

“The department undertook a global campaign to bring partners and allies on board in every country around the world, with every embassy and mission raising this to the highest levels, and at every meeting I’ve had throughout the year, this has been on the agenda to discuss,” he said.

Tillerson talked about the U.S. strategy to “compel the Taliban to reconciliation and peace talks with the Afghan government” and the “important ceasefires and stabilizations” the administration achieved in Syria, which saved thousands of lives.

“There’s more to be done in Syria, particularly with respect to achieving the peace, as well as stabilizing Iraq and seeing a healthy government installed, and more broadly in the entire global campaign to defeat ISIS. Nothing is possible without allies and partners, though,” he said.

Tillerson addressed the president’s decision to fire him and hire CIA Director Mike Pompeo to head the State Department, only by saying, “I received a call today from the president of the United States a little after noon time from Air Force One, and I’ve also spoken to White House Chief of Staff Kelly to ensure we have clarity as to the days ahead.

“What is most important is to ensure an orderly and smooth transition during a time that the country continues to face significant policy and national security challenges. As such, effective at the end of the day, I’m delegating all responsibilities of the office of the secretary to Deputy Secretary of State Sullivan,” Tillerson added.

“My commission as secretary of state will terminate at midnight March the 31st. Between now and then, I’ll address a few administrative matters related to my departure and work towards a smooth and orderly transition for Secretary of State-designate Mike Pompeo,” the secretary said.

“I’m encouraging my policy planning team and undersecretaries and assistant secretaries - those confirmed as well as those in acting positions - to remain at their post and continue our mission at the State Department and working with the interagency process,” he said.

“I want to speak now to my State Department colleagues and to our interagency colleagues and partners at DoD and the Joint Chiefs of Staff most particularly. To my foreign service officers and civil service colleagues, we all took the same oath of office. Whether you’re a career employee or a political appointee, we are all bound by that common commitment - to support and defend the Constitution, to bear true faith and allegiance to the same, and to faithfully discharge the duties of our office,” Tillerson said.

The secretary closed by saying he will return to “private life as a private citizen, as a proud American, proud of the opportunity” he had to serve his country.

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