Rex Tillerson confirmed as Secretary of State

The former chief executive of Exxon Mobil won the Senate vote 56 to 43

Rex Tillerson confirmed as Secretary of State

Rex Tillerson, President-elect Donald Trump's choice for Secretary of State, attends the presidential inaugural Chairman's Global Dinner. | Image: Evan Vucci AP/Press Association Images

Rex W Tillerson has been confirmed as the 69th secretary of state in the US following a Senate vote.

The former chairman and chief executive of Exxon Mobil was confirmed on Wednesday in a 56 to 43 vote.

A Texan born-and-raised, Mr. Tillerson earned an engineering degree from the University of Texas at Austin, got a job at Exxon in 1975 and climbed his way to the top, leaving only last year.

Neither a diplomat, soldier nor politician, he is an unconventional choice for the job, but has vast international experience.

Concerns have been raised Mr Tillerson's close connections to Russia during his time at Exxon Mobil - considerably so following the intelligence community's conclusion that Russia tried to interfere in the election.

President Trump's reluctance to accept it intensified the discussion surrounding Mr Tillerson. Key Republicans Marco Rubio of Florida, John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina initially said they were skeptical of Tillerson before backtracking and supporting him, despite reservations about some of his Russia-related answers.

Some lawmakers raised concerns that Tillerson could lift sanctions on Russia related to its 2014 annexation of the Crimea region in eastern Ukraine. Trump has not outright committed to removing those sanctions, but has said he wants a better relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.