Tillerson says he and Trump disagree over Iran nuclear deal

Rex Tillerson with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri last week

The money to combat Russian misinformation was set aside by Congress late past year for the State Department's Global Engagement Center. That $60 million from the Defense Department could expire by September 30 if he doesn't request a transfer. As I have noted repeatedly, including during my attendance at this year's Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, there is a high level of anxiety in the subregion about the lack of coherence in Asia policy, including some related to how long Tillerson and others like U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will remain in their current jobs (See: "The Ticking Clock on Trump's Asia Strategy").

It is highly unusual for a Cabinet secretary to turn down money for his department.

The money is earmarked for the State Department, but Tillerson hasn't submitted a request for the funds, reported Politico.

"What we're seeing is a small group of people with very thin knowledge making all the decisions in a very centralized and isolated process".

They say the State Department's R.C. Hammond suggested "any extra funding for programs to counter Russian media influence would anger Moscow" at a time when the USA still seems interested in working with President Vladimir Putin on Syria and on fighting ISIS. Though its original mandate was to coordinate USA counterterrorism messaging to foreign audiences, the Obama administration expanded the mission to include countering disinformation campaigns from countries such as China and Russian Federation.

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Tillerson, the former CEO of ExxonMobil, was awarded the Russian Order of Friendship from Putin after signing deals with the state-owned Russian oil company Rosneft.

File image of USA president Donald Trump meeting Sergei Lavrov.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acknowledged on Tuesday that he and President Donald Trump disagree over the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, and said the two men discuss how to use the global agreement to advance administration policies. The secretary is concerned that releasing the money will complicate ongoing negotiations with the Kremlin on sensitive issues such as Syria and the Russian intervention in Ukraine, a former State department official told Politico. At a House Committee on Armed Services hearing in March, several experts said US counter-propaganda efforts are disjointed and lack a strategy tailored to specific threats.

State Department officials have previously acknowledged that it is hard to prove if any of the counter-propaganda messaging is changing the views of its intended audience. Officials in the building and lawmakers on Capitol Hill want Tillerson to spend the money that's sitting there.

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