BRUSSELS -- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told U.S. diplomats in Brussels today that the U.S. State Department has yet to achieve foreign policy “wins” since he took over nearly a year ago.
"While we don't have any wins on the board yet, I can tell you we're in a much better position to advance America's interests around the world than we were 10 months ago," Tillerson said.
The "quick wins" referred to a planned reorganization of the department, including updating the IT system and streamlining the operation, a State Department spokesman said later.
After President Donald Trump's recent trip to Asia, he touted his wins to reporters on Air Force One, saying, “we've had a tremendously successful trip." The United States netted "at least $300 billion” in trade deals, Trump said.
The next day at the White House, Trump said the United States made “historic strides in reasserting American leadership, restoring American security, and reawakening American confidence.”
Tillerson today acknowledged the slow pace to fill ambassadorship positions. Neither the European Union nor Belgium has a U.S. ambassador in place, and Tillerson has yet to offer nominees for the postings.
"We're still awaiting on a lot of nominees to clear the processes and be confirmed," he said. "I get a little criticism for that from time to time.
"The State Department is not missing a beat because we're still working through the process," he added. "I have yet to encounter anyone who has not stepped up and assumed responsibilities."
In his first extensive remarks since reports surfaced about a White House plot to oust him, which Trump has denied, Tillerson barely mentioned the president. He only recalled that the two met for the first time on the day when Trump offered him the prestigious position.