Tillerson Heads to Kuwait to Help Resolve GCC Row

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is set to begin a four-day visit to Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia on Monday to help seek a resolution to the ongoing Gulf crisis. 

Tillerson assured Ukraine’s leader on Sunday that the United States would not lift economic sanctions against Russia until it “reverses the actions” that prompted them and restores the country’s “territorial integrity,” appearing to set the same high bar for sanctions relief that the Obama administration did.

He strongly worded statement, issued at a news conference in Kiev alongside President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine, seemed to insist that Moscow withdraw Russian troops and heavy weapons from eastern Ukraine and return Crimea, the Black Sea territory that Russia annexed in 2014 — though Tillerson never specifically mentioned that disputed peninsula by name.

Moreover, Tillerson’s comments came on the same day that President Trump said sanctions were not discussed at his meeting on Friday with President Vladimir Putin of Russia. And Trump walked into a new controversy with his declaration on Twitter that he and Putin had agreed to create “an impenetrable Cyber Security unit,” suggesting for the first time that the two biggest adversaries in cyberspace would somehow police it together.

Trump’s tweet came as intelligence officials appeared increasingly convinced that Russian cyberactivity continued well after the election, and that the Russian government was likely behind recent intrusions into business systems at American nuclear power plants.

In a Twitter statement minutes after Tillerson finished speaking, Trump wrote that “sanctions were not discussed in my meeting with President Putin,” and added, “Nothing will be done until the Ukrainian and Syrian problems are solved!”

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