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Tillerson to stand firm on Russia, China

Reuters file photo

Rex Tillerson speaks in Houston on April 21, 2015.

Reuters WASHINGTON (Reuters) — U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of state nominee, Rex Tillerson, on Wednesday was to voice concerns about Russia’s actions on the world stage and say China must help pressure North Korea to reform.

The Trump transition team circulated Tillerson’s opening statement to be delivered during his Senate confirmation hearing. In them, he will explain to some extent why Trump has been in favor of a warmer relationship with Moscow, saying Washington needs an open and frank dialogue with Russia on its ambition in order for the United States to chart its own course.

But his rhetoric expressing concern about Russia goes beyond Trump’s own frequent expressions of the need for better ties with Russia after what he feels was a bungling of the relationship by outgoing President Barack Obama.

“Our NATO allies are right to be alarmed at a resurgent Russia,” Tillerson will say. “But it was in the absence of American leadership that this door was left open and unintended signals were sent.”

Tillerson, like Trump, will express a dim view of China’s aggressive moves in the South China Sea such as its building of an island to serve as a military base.

“China’s island-building in the South China Sea is an illegal taking of disputed areas without regard for international norms,” he will say.

As Trump adopts from Obama the challenge of containing North Korea’s nuclear program, Tillerson signaled a move to exert more pressure on China to help.

“We cannot continue to accept empty promises like the ones China has made to pressure North Korea to reform, only to shy away from enforcement. Looking the other way when trust is broken only encourages more bad behavior. And it must end,” Tillerson will say.Speech

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