Tillerson to skip NATO meeting

The US Secretary of State is headed to Russia

Tillerson to skip NATO meeting

US Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington | Image: Steve Helber AP/Press Association Images

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is skipping a NATO meeting in Brussels next month.

This week, he will meet with several of his counterparts from NATO member countries, a spokesman confirmed, but will skip a scheduled meeting of foreign ministers.
 
The US will host the coalition to defeat ISIS starting Wednesday and Tillerson will meet with the NATO members' foreign ministers in Washington then, the spokesman said.
 
State Department acting spokesman Mark Toner told reporters that the meeting's dates didn't fit in Tillerson's schedule. The State Department has sent "alternative dates" to NATO for the meeting, and Toner said the agency is "certainly appreciative of the effort to accommodate Secretary Tillerson."
 
News of Tillerson's Russia trip was first reported by Reuters. The spokesman said that the secretary's trip will come after a foreign ministers' G7 meeting in Italy.
 
Acting Deputy Secretary of State Tom Shannon will represent the US at the NATO meeting, which will take place April 5th - 6th in Brussels.
 
The meeting takes place shortly before Chinese President Xi Jinping visits the US for a crucial meeting with the Trump administration. Tillerson laid the groundwork for the meeting during a visit to Beijing last week.
 
The State Department would not say that the Xi visit is the reason Tillerson won't attend the NATO meeting.

Trump tweets

The supposed snub comes after President Donald Trump reiterated the US' commitment to NATO but said allies must pay their "fair share" for defense.