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Secretary of State Tillerson Takes Hard Line in Speech, Tells the Truth in Q&A

Nov. 29, 2017 (EIRNS)—Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke at the Wilson Center yesterday. In his prepared speech, he ranted against Russia in words worthy of Hillary Clinton. But in the question-and-answer period, he spoke freely of the important cooperation in many areas between the United States and Russia.

Starting off on a bad foot, he praised Teddy Roosevelt fulsomely for getting the United States into World War I.

He denounced Russia for

"invading its neighbor Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014. Russia continues aggressive behavior toward other regional neighbors by interfering in election processes and promoting non-democratic ideals. We, together with our friends in Europe, recognize the active threat of a recently resurgent Russia."

He accused Russia of refusing to implement the Minsk agreement and "flagrant violation of international norms." He used this imagined aggression to justify the extraordinary increase in the U.S. military budget.

However, asked about cooperation with Russia during the question-and-answer period, Tillerson pointed to Syria, where "there’s a lot of commonality," describing the joint Putin-Trump statement on Syria released in Vietnam as

"an important alignment of how we see the Syria peace process going forward, and it was an important statement to have Russia confirm that they see it the same way we do. We’ll use that and well build on it."

But he went beyond Syria:

"We think there’s areas of greater cooperation on counterterrorism with Russia. There may be opportunities for cooperation in Afghanistan. We’ve not yet come to what that might be, but we’re talking about it."

He added that "We’ve had some very substantive discussions" on Ukraine, where "we’re pursuing the possibility of a peacekeeping force."