Tillerson tasked with repairing relations with Russia

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says that relations with Russia have been better, but that he is up to the task of repairing them.

In an interview from New Zealand Tuesday, Tillerson told reporters that Trump has tasked him with rebuilding a productive relationship with Russia despite political turmoil regarding Russian ties to the Trump campaign.

“He’s been quite clear with me to proceed at whatever pace and in the areas I think we might make progress,” Tillerson said. “I really am not involved in any of these other issues.”

As CEO of Exxon Mobil, Tillerson enjoyed somewhat of a working friendship with Putin, but as Secretary of State, issues of how best to deal with Syria have created separation between the two. In May, Tillerson claimed that Russia has been “complicit or simply incompetent” in its commitment to prevent Syria from obtaining chemical weapons.

In regard to other matters of White House politics, including Trump’s tweets, Tillerson is keeping his nose clean and is focused on the task at hand.

“The president has his own unique ways of communicating with the American people, and the world,” Tillerson said. “And it’s served him pretty well, and I don’t intend to advise him on how to communicate. That’s up to him.”

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