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Tillerson: We can't let 'personal convictions' stop teamwork at State

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Thursday addressed the State Department for the first time, acknowledging the contentious election but emphasizing the importance of working together.

"I know this was a hotly contested election and we do not all feel the same way about the outcome. Each of us is entitled to the expression of our political beliefs," Tillerson told State Department employees.
 
"But we cannot let our personal convictions overwhelm our ability to work as one team. Let us be understanding with each other about the times we live in as we focus our energies on our departmental goals."
 
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Tillerson vowed that in his role as secretary of State, he will use the "talent and resources" of the State Department in the "most efficient ways possible."
 
"That may entail making some changes to how things are traditionally done in this department," he said.
 
"Change for the sake of change can be counterproductive, and that will never be my approach. But we cannot sustain ineffective traditions over optimal outcomes."
 
He said he will gather information about what processes should be reformed and "make sure we are functioning in the most productive and efficient way possible."
 
Tillerson was officially sworn in as secretary of State on Wednesday night after overcoming opposition from Democrats in the Senate. 
 
During the ceremony Wednesday, President Trump praised Tillerson for his understanding of diplomacy while lauding him for prioritizing U.S. values and security.
 
Tillerson on Thursday also joked about the Senate confirmation process.
 
"I know many of you have assisted ambassadors and other officials during the Senate confirmation process, and indeed some of you have been through it yourself," he said.
 
"Having just come through it for the first time, I can assure you that the Senate still takes it as serious as ever. They're as energetic as ever. They're as thorough as ever — but we're here."