New York [USA]: U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has chosen ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, a purported friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, to serve as the next Secretary of State.
The announcement was made on Tuesday by the transition team, setting up a heated Senate confirmation battle, reports the Guardian.
Tillerson developed his close ties with Putin as he negotiated a deal with Russian oil giant Rosneft to provide access to lucrative oil resources in the Arctic. The agreement will be at the center of his confirmation hearing.
For his efforts, Putin awarded Tillerson Russia’s prestigious Order of Friendship in 2013. The deal has so far not yielded its promise.
Like Trump, Tillerson, 64, has no formal foreign policy experience, but has built close relationships with many world leaders by closing massive deals across Eurasia and the Middle East on behalf of the world’s largest energy company.
“His tenacity, broad experience and deep understanding of geopolitics make him an excellent choice for Secretary of State,” Trump said in the statement.
Tillerson was recommended to Trump by former secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice and James Baker and former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates.
Trump’s decision to press ahead with the Tillerson nomination could ignite the first big showdown between the new White House and Capitol Hill as many senators are deeply perturbed by the close relationship Tillerson forged with Putin.
They fear Trump and Tillerson would bring US policy far more in line with Russia, which is locked in the worst confrontation with Washington since the Cold War and is seeking to again become a great power rival to the United States.
Tillerson, a native of Wichita Falls, Texas, has worked for ExxonMobil for 40 years after joining the firm as a production engineer and has steered the giant global firm since 2006. (ANI)