Tillerson Under Fire for Plans to Skip NATO Meeting
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has come under fire for a decision not to attend next month's NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels, and for an announcement that he will travel to Russia later in April.
At Tuesday's State Department briefing, acting spokesman Mark Toner said the problem is a scheduling conflict.
Rather than have his first meeting of the 28 NATO allies, Tillerson is set to attend President Donald Trump's meeting April 6-7 with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, Reuters news agency reported.
Toner said Tom Shannon, acting deputy secretary of state for political affairs and former acting secretary, will represent the U.S. at the NATO meeting.
Asked about what message Tillerson’s absence at the NATO meeting would send to close U.S. allies, Toner stressed that the United States remains 100 percent committed to NATO. Toner also noted that Tillerson is meeting with most, if not all, of the NATO foreign ministers Wednesday when the Coalition to Defeat Islamic State meets in Washington.
President Trump has repeatedly dismissed NATO as "obsolete," though his Vice President Mike Pence voiced staunch U.S. support for the alliance during a news conference in Brussels last month and Tillerson has also expressed his support for NATO.
US, South Korea Say North Korean Missile Test Fails
The United States and South Korea say a North Korean missile test Wednesday ended in failure.
A spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Command said the missile appeared to have exploded within seconds of launching from the Kalma peninsula, in the eastern part of the country.
South Korea's military said the apparent test launch did not go off normally.
Neither country gave details about what type of missile was tested, and both said they were continuing to analyze the launch.
Earlier this month, North Korea fired four ballistic missiles into the sea off Japan in response to annual U.S.-South Korea military drills, which the North sees as a preparation for war.
Three of the missiles flew about 1,000 kilometers and landed in Japanese waters, the Pentagon said. U.S. officials said the weapons were medium-range rockets that did not pose a threat to North America.