United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday said the country’s relationship with Pakistan was “extraordinarily important”, and that the US would work hard “at all levels” to strengthen ties.
“Pakistan is critical...to the long-term stability of the [South Asian] region,” he said, adding that the US wants a stable government in Islamabad.
This comes weeks after President Donald Trump’s tough stand against Pakistan. In August, he had blamed Islamabad of protecting terrorists and said Washington would “no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organisations”.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Tillerson denied that he had ever considered resigning from his post, as claimed by a news report. He also dismissed the news that he had called President Trump a “moron.”
“I have never considered leaving this post,” Tillerson said in the hastily arranged press conference.
Earlier in the day, NBC News had reported that the secretary of state had considered quitting and had called Trump a “moron”. In his press statement, Tillerson did not confirm or deny using the word, but he said he would not “deal with petty stuff like that”, calling it “petty nonsense”.
There have been speculations of disagreement between Trump and Tillerson lately. On Sunday, the president had appeared to undercut Tillerson’s views and said negotiating with North Korea on its nuclear programme would be a waste of time. Hours earlier, Tillerson had said that US authorities were in direct contact with their North Korean counterparts.
“Save your energy Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!” Trump had tweeted.
On Wednesday, Tillerson defended Trump’s policy on North Korea and said the president had created international unity around a campaign to pressure Pyongyang to abandon nuclear weapons. He also said the US was now on the verge of defeating the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.
“He’s smart, he demands results wherever he goes,” Tillerson said, referring to Trump.