WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday proposed a new date for a meeting of NATO foreign ministers, the United States Government said, after initially deciding not to attend.
Tillerson’s original decision not to attend the NATO meeting scheduled for April 5th and 6th in Brussels bothered Washington’s European allies, who again doubted President Donald Trump’s pledge to the alliance. US officials said the Secretary of State could visit Russia in April.
Reuters reported on Monday that Tillerson would not attend the NATO meeting to be in Trump talks with Chinese leader Xi Jinping from 6-7 April in Florida.
The alliance offered to change the dates of the meeting so that Tillerson could attend that meeting and Trump’s meeting with Xi, but the State Department rejected the proposal, an ex-US correspondent and a former NATO diplomat said on Monday. anonymity.
But Tuesday, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said a timeline was proposed for Tillerson to attend, though he stressed that that decision must be taken by consensus by all 28 NATO members. He also noted that “the United States remains 100 percent committed” to the alliance.
Failing to attend the NATO meeting and visiting Moscow could fuel the perception that Trump is giving priority to US relations with the great powers, while leaving smaller nations dependent on Washington for their security, Said two ex-Americans.
Trump has often praised Russian President Vladimir Putin. Tillerson worked with the Russian government when he was a senior executive of Exxon Mobil Corp (NYSE: XOM ) and has questioned the suitability of sanctions against Moscow because, he said, they could hurt US firms.
A NATO ex-diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was vital to present a united front against Moscow. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was created in 1949 to serve as a stronghold against the Soviet Union.
By Arshad Mohammed and Robin Emmott