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U.S. Senate confirms Tillerson as secretary of state

access_time Feb 01,2017 chat_bubble_outline 35 views

By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate confirmed Rex Tillerson as President Donald Trump's secretary of state on Wednesday, filling a key spot on the Republican's national security team despite concerns about the former Exxon Mobil Corp chief executive officer's ties to Russia.

The vote, mostly along party lines, was by far the closest in at least half a century.

Fifty-six senators backed Tillerson, and 43 voted no. Every Republican favored Tillerson, along with four members of the Democratic caucus, Senators Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Manchin and Mark Warner as well as Angus King, an independent.

Democratic Senator Chris Coons did not vote.

Tillerson's predecessor in the position, John Kerry, was confirmed by 94 to 3. Condoleezza Rice, the last secretary of state nominated by a Republican, was confirmed by 85-13.

Senate Democrats had tried, but failed, to delay the vote on Tillerson because of Trump's executive order banning immigration from seven mostly Muslim countries and temporarily halting the entry of refugees.

They said they wanted to ask Tillerson more questions about the issue after Trump signed the order on Friday, prompting protests and chaos at airports across the country and uncertainty and disruption for travelers around the world.

But Republicans hold a majority of 52 seats in the 100-member Senate, and so far have confirmed all of the six Trump nominees who have come up for votes.

Senators had also expressed concerns over Tillerson's ties to Russia after the executive spent years there working for the oil company. Some faulted him for failing to promise to recuse himself from matters related to Exxon Mobil businesses for his entire term as secretary of state rather than only the one year required by law.

Tillerson, 64, retired as chairman and chief executive of Exxon Mobil at the end of 2016 after a four-decade career at the company.

Republicans and other Tillerson supporters said they thought he would be a strong leader as the country's top diplomat, citing his experience running a giant corporation operating on six continents. They also said it was important to finalize Trump's national security team quickly, to address international crises and reassure allies wondering about the new president's "America First" foreign policy.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and James Dalgleish)

In Africa, Vietnam's rice exporters see a rising market

A man dries unhusked rice on a road in front of his home. Photo by REUTERS/Samrang Pring. The Vietnam Food Association (VFA) is planning to increase rice exports to African countries to make up for a sharp decline in the Chinese market. China remains the biggest buyer of Vietnamese rice, accounting for a third of all shipments. However, exports to this market in the first eight months fell 21.4 percent year-on-year to 1.18 million tons, according to the agriculture ministry. Sales to some… chat_bubble_outline Read More...

Merger appears near for Vietnam's stock exchanges

An investor is seen behind a stock market screen at a securities company in Hanoi, Vietnam on April 20, 2016. Photo by Reuters/ Nguyen Huy Kham Vietnam will soon realize its long-awaited plan to merge the country's two stock exchanges to create a single bourse, aiming to boost investment in one of the fastest-growing markets of the region, according to a news report. The combined exchange will be based in Hanoi, the Saigon Times cited an anonymous source as saying, adding that the government… chat_bubble_outline Read More...

Swedish island mulls renting space to Russia amid concerns

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Ecuador hit by 6.7 earthquake; president says no damage

A magnitude 6.7 earthquake struck Ecuador's coast early on Wednesday in the same zone where a 7.8 tremor killed more than 650 people last month. There was no immediate report of damage from the latest quake, which cut electricity in some coastal areas and sent people running into the streets as far away as the highland capital Quito, witnesses said. "The epicenter was Mompiche. There are no damages reported. There is no tsunami warning," President Rafael Correa tweeted. The Pacific Tsunami… chat_bubble_outline Read More...

4-yr-old 'birdgirl' struggles with skin condition

Many children her age in the Ja Rai village in Gia Lai Province go to kindergarten, but Ro Mah Suih stays at home because people are uncomfortable near her. The black hair in her back seems to be spreading to her buttocks and belly and there are new black dots on her neck and chin. Her neighbors call her “birdgirl.” “We are too poor to know what to do,” her mother Ro Mah Suyn told Tuoi Tre newspaper. The only thing they can do is to scratch her back, which she needs all the time. “Whenever… chat_bubble_outline Read More...

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