WATCH: Tillerson says he isn’t ‘very happy’ with Russia sanctions, but is hopeful about improving relations
WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says neither he nor President Donald Trump is “very happy” about new sanctions on Russia that Congress has voted to put in place.
But he says the sanctions show that Americans are frustrated by Moscow, even though they want the U.S. to have a functional relationship with the nuclear-armed power.
Speaking to reporters at the State Department on Tuesday, Tillerson lamented the sour state of relations with Russia more than half a year into Trump’s term. He says they’ve gotten worse and is pointing to Russia’s move to kick out many U.S. diplomats serving in Russia.
Still, Tillerson says the U.S. has had some successes working with Russia on lowering violence in Syria. Tillerson says he’ll meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during his trip to the Philippines starting Sunday.
At the news briefing, Tillerson sought to dispel speculation that he is frustrated and looking for a way out. He said he and Trump have had policy disagreements, notably over the Iran nuclear deal, which the president opposes.
Still, Tillerson says Trump has expressed confidence in him and often calls him late at night and on weekends seeking his input on various foreign policy matters. Tillerson says he wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t express his views, even when they conflict with those of the president.