United States President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday officially nominated Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be the next secretary of state. The Republican has described Tillerson as one of the “most accomplished business leaders and international dealmakers”, and said his career was the “embodiment of the American dream”. His nomination for the country’s highest diplomatic post – equivalent to India’s minister of external affairs – is subject to approval from the US Senate.
Tillerson is believed to have close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which critics find alarming. In 2013, Putin had awarded the Exxon chief with the Order of Friendship, an honor for a foreign citizen. The announcement gains even more significance as the country’s Central Intelligence Agency had said Russian cyber attacks had helped Trump win the presidential election.
The Exxon head has no previous political experience. The US secretary of state carries out the president’s foreign policies through the State Department and the US Foreign Service.
Tillerson has worked with many global leaders in his time as Exxon chief, but with a different agenda. He had criticised economic sanctions against Russia, which had hampered Exxon’s work with the country’s state oil company Rosneft. Exxon is also facing an investigation for misleading investors regarding what it knew about climate change.