Tillerson is officially U.S. Secretary of State

Tillerson is officially U.S. Secretary of StateRex Tillerson was sworn in as the U.S. Secretary of State on Wednesday evening after having been confirmed by the Senate earlier in the day, CNN reported.

"It's time to bring a clear-eyed focus to foreign affairs," President Donald Trump said at a White House ceremony.

"All of us are better off when we act in concert and not conflict. There's rarely been conflict in the world like we see today. Very sad," he added.

Vice President Mike Pence gave the oath of office to Tillerson.

The former ExxonMobil CEO - who was confirmed in the Senate by a vote of 56 to 43, with all Republicans in support and most Democrats voting against him - fills one more slot on Trump's national security team despite questions about his approach to Russia and state sponsors of terror, such as Iran.

Three Democratic senators split with their party to back Tillerson: Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Mark Warner of Virginia. They were joined by Independent Sen. Angus King of Maine, who caucuses with Democrats.

Sen. Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he was sure Tillerson would be an effective leader at the State Department.

"Mr. Tillerson led a global enterprise with 75,000 employees, possesses deep relationships around the world, and understands the critical role of U.S. leadership," Corker said in a statement.

"He has expressed a commitment to defend American values and to restore U.S. credibility by strengthening old alliances and building new ones," he added.

Tillerson will take the helm of the U.S. government's oldest executive agency, founded in 1789, at a time when Trump has roiled some of America's oldest and most stalwart allies.

The European Union president warned on Tuesday that the Trump administration now poses a "threat" after the President's declaration that NATO is "obsolete." Trump also has repeatedly praised Brexit and said he expects other countries to leave the EU.

Asian allies such as South Korea and Japan are seeking reassurance after Trump suggested reconsidering security ties.

The 64-year-old Texan had a shaky confirmation hearing before Corker's committee in January, generating frustration among Democrats and Republicans alike after he dodged a series of questions. He wouldn't agree when asked if Russia's Vladimir Putin - who has given Tillerson Russia's highest civilian honor for his work there as an oil man - is a war criminal. Tillerson also avoided condemning human rights abuses in China, Saudi Arabia and the Philippines. And he sidestepped a direct answer about whether humans cause climate change.

Democrats also raised concerns about how long Tillerson would recuse himself from decisions that could affect ExxonMobil once he became the top U.S. diplomat.

Eventually, Tillerson narrowly won approval from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a 10-11 vote along party lines.

Democrats had hoped to delay a final vote in order to quiz Tillerson about the Trump administration's travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries. In his confirmation hearing, Tillerson said, "I do not support targeting any particular group."

Tillerson split from Trump on a series of issues in his confirmation hearing last month, condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine as "illegal" and saying he did not oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that President Donald Trump has rejected.

Tillerson also pushed back against Trump's campaign suggestion that South Korea and Japan should consider developing nuclear arsenals. And unlike Trump, who has repeatedly questioned the utility of NATO and its members' financial contributions, Tillerson expressed clear support for the alliance.
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