Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State, finally addressed the issues of the foreign policy of President Donald Trump which is known for its slogan "America First." Although Trump has so far stressed that he wants to put the national interests of the United States in front of the interests of other countries, details of its foreign policy have been rather vague. Tillerson has so far given the most elaborate explanation of the Trump administration's foreign policy. The Atlantic conveys what he said about the most important topics.


Tillerson has confirmed the desire to improve relations with Russia, which, as he told to the Russian President Vladimir Putin on a recent visit to Moscow, reached its lowest point since the end of the Cold War.

"Putin shrugged and nodded to show his agreement," Tillerson said. "We have a long list of things we have to do, from our (nuclear) weapons... to, obviously, Ukraine, the Crimea and other places where Russia is not particularly helpful today," Tillerson said, adding that building peace in Syria would be "the first major area of co-operation" between the two world powers.

North Korea

The Trump administration is willing to impose sanctions on foreign companies operating in North Korea. However, the United States is ready to negotiate Kim Jong-Un's regime on the elimination of nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula, Tillerson said.


As Trump himself also said, the US has a "huge opportunity" to redefine its relationship with China in the coming decades, and Tillerson thinks that intent is reciprocal.

Two countries have so far been diplomatically confronting about trade, cyber security, and the crisis with North Korea. China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi at a recent UN Security Council session said China was not "the only one responsible" for stopping North Korea's nuclear program. Still, Tillerson is optimistic about further co-operation.

"I appreciate the constructive way China engages in relations with the United States," he said.

Human rights

Tillerson has suggested that in some cases the United States will have to ignore human rights issues when it comes to their national interests: "If we are to make our national security efforts so that someone is adopting our values, we probably won't be able to achieve our national security targets." This conclusion was criticized by some of the ministry's officials.


Trump administration strengthens pressure on NATO members to increase their defense budget. "It seems his intention was to inform us that our mission has changed from what it was since 1945," one Foreign Ministry employee commented for Reuters: "It is clear that he came to speak and not listen."