Tillerson delivers speech on value of diversity and respect

Tillerson delivers speech on value of diversity and respect
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Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonThe Memo: Nationalists gain upper hand in Trump’s White House Rand's reversal advances Pompeo Frequent Trump critics NY Daily News, USA Today editorial boards back Pompeo MORE delivered a speech to department employees on Friday underlining the values of diversity and respect after President TrumpDonald John TrumpFormer Watergate prosecutor: Trump taking the fifth would be political suicide Comey: I’m ‘embarrassed and ashamed’ by Republican party Comey, Anderson Cooper clash over whether memo release violated FBI rules MORE reportedly decried immigration from "shithole countries."

Tillerson's speech, according to CNN, primarily addressed sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace, which has become the subject of an intense national debate amid a growing number of allegations against powerful men in politics, media, business and beyond.

"No form of harassment is more demeaning than sexual harassment," Tillerson said, according to CNN.

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"Harassment and abuse have no place in a nation founded on the ideals of individual liberty and pursuit of happiness, and it can have no place at this organization, our State Department — not here in Washington, not at posts abroad, nowhere."

But the Trump administration's top diplomat also professed the importance of diversity and talked about "aspirational values" that have challenged the U.S. to address issues of inequality and injustice.

"America's birth was far from perfect," Tillerson said, reportedly referencing the country's history with slavery, women's suffrage and the civil rights movement, according to CNN. "And we're still not perfect, but we've never lost sight of aspirational values."

Tillerson also said that "our lives are enriched when we recognize the diversity in our nation."

The speech came a day after reports surfaced that Trump demanded during a meeting with lawmakers to know why the U.S. admitted immigrants from "shithole countries," such as Haiti and El Salvador, and suggested supporting more immigration from countries like Norway.

The comments have drawn widespread backlash and accusations of racism.

Trump denied the comments in a pair of tweets Friday morning, claiming that he only ever referenced Haiti as a "very poor and troubled country."