PoliticsForeign Policy


Top US Diplomat Rex Tillerson Reportedly Skipped Several UN Meetings

His reported absence would fit a trend of being less focused on diplomacy and more concerned about efficiency.
Posted at 8:15 AM, Sep 21, 2017

At the United Nations General Assembly, one prominent face was reportedly absent from a number of meetings.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson either ignored or intentionally sat out several meetings this week, senior State Department officials told NBC News. That left Vice President Mike Pence or U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley to fill in.

Officials say it's more evidence of Tillerson's reduced diplomatic presence in the Trump administration. The former Exxon Mobil CEO has usually preferred to focus on organization and efficiency over diplomacy.

Tillerson recently turned in his plan for a "process redesign" for the department. Officials say roughly 2,000 jobs will be cut over the next couple years. Some of those jobs are special envoy positions that deal with sensitive issues like climate change and the Iran nuclear deal.

But congressional committees declined Tillerson's budget proposals, opting to keep most State Department spending as is.

Officially, the State Department pushed back on reports that Tillerson wasn't active at the U.N., pointing to the fact that he chaired a meeting to discuss Syria with several countries and the European Union.

And Haley said Tillerson "is not going anywhere," batting down speculation she might take his place.