Tillerson to travel to Europe amid rumors of his exit

Tillerson to travel to Europe amid rumors of his exit
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Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonOvernight Defense: Trump rails against media coverage | Calls reporting on Iran tensions 'highly inaccurate' | GOP senator blocking Trump pick for Turkey ambassador | Defense bill markup next week Trump frustrated with advisers over Iran, wants to speak to leaders in Tehran: report Juan Williams: Trump's scorecard is rife with losses MORE will travel to Europe next week to meet with key NATO allies, the State Department announced on Thursday as reports indicate he could soon be leaving his post.

Tillerson will travel to Brussels, Vienna and Paris, spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement. 

Tillerson will meet with the European Union's chief diplomat, Federica Mogherini, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during the trip to Brussels. He will also take part in NATO’s foreign ministers meeting.

Mogherini traveled to Washington, D.C., earlier this month to defend the Iran nuclear deal, which was negotiated between the U.S., Iran and international powers. President Trump last month chose to decertify the accord, which provided Tehran with sanctions relief in exchange for curbs to its nuclear program. 


Trump's decision to decertify the nuclear accord did not entirely kill the deal, but provided Congress with a 60-day window to reinstate sanctions that were previously lifted on Tehran. Trump in his October announcement did not call for the reinstatement of nuclear sanctions.

“It’s belonging to the entire international community and as Europeans, we’ll make sure it stays, Mogherini told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour while in Washington.

While in Vienna, Tillerson will attend a conference hosted by the Austrian foreign minister. He will then head to Paris for talks about the Middle East region, North Korea, and the Sahel, according to Nauert.

The announcement of the trip comes the same day The New York Times reported that the White House is preparing to replace Tillerson with CIA Director Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget Tensions swirl around Iran as administration to brief Congress Overnight Defense: Iran tensions swirl as officials prepare to brief Congress | Trump threatens war would be 'end of Iran' | Graham tells Trump to 'stand firm' | Budget talks begin MORE.

Nauert said Thursday that Trump’s chief of staff, John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE, called the State Department to deny the report that the White House is pushing to oust Tillerson.

But White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders refused at Thursday's press briefing to say that Trump retained confidence in his top diplomat.

“When the president loses confidence in someone, they will no longer serve in the capacity that they're in,” Sanders said.