US top diplomat defended foreign policy record at year’s end

Vastavam web: The United States’ top diplomat has defended his country’s foreign policy record, saying progress had been made in the last year to rein in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and to counter the “immense challenges” posed by Russia, China and Iran.In an opinion piece in the New York Times, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said yesterday some 90 per cent of Pyongyang’s export earnings had been cut off by a series of international sanctions after the Trump administration “abandoned the failed policy of strategic patience”.Washington wants North Korea to abandon its nuclear programme and has spearheaded three rounds of UN sanctions against the isolated regime, restricting crucial exports of coal, iron, seafood and textiles from the cash-starved state.

Pyongyang has hit out at those sanctions, calling the latest round “an act of war”, and has vowed to never give up its nuclear programme.Trump’s administration has been dogged by allegations his campaign team colluded with Russia to help him win last year’s election.Addressing relations with Moscow, Tillerson said the Trump administration had “no illusions about the regime we are dealing with” and that they were “on guard against Russian aggression”.”The flawed nuclear deal is no longer the focal point of our policy toward Iran,” he warned. “We are now confronting the totality of Iranian threats.” He also defended his cuts to the State Department and USAID budget, saying they were designed to “address root problems that lead to inefficiencies and frustrations”.