State Dept.: Tillerson's Sudden 'Time Off' Not Sign He Intends to Quit

Rex-Tillerson-1

Washington has been rife with rumors this week that Tillerson would soon leave his post due to frustration with U.S. President Donald Trump and others in the White House.

While circumspect, Tillerson talked about the challenges of his new job earlier this month, telling reporters that it differed from his former role as chief executive of Exxon Mobil Corp, where "I was the ultimate decision-maker".

Tillerson was scheduled to receive visiting Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Qatar's foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, according to the state department's schedule of engagements of its senior leaders for Wednesday.

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SECRETARY TILLERSON: As long as the President lets me.

Following last month's move by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt to boycott Qatar, Tillerson publicly asked the nations to ease their blockade, and put the onus on both sides to end the crisis.

"The secretary has been very clear he intends to stay here at the State Department", she said.

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Trump's public rebuke and tormenting of Sessions - the first Republican senator to back him as a presidential candidate - has reportedly anxious other members of the cabinet.

Talk of Tillerson's departure comes as President Trump openly feuds with Attorney General Jeff Sessions. "We have a lot of work that is left to be done ahead of us".

Speculation about Tillerson's status was further fuelled after the State Department said Tuesday he had taken time off. Tillerson returned to his home in Texas for a couple of days but was back in the office by Wednesday. "He recognises that. He's deeply engaged in that work".

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Tillerson isn't the only one taking time off. Secretary of Defense James Mattis is also out this week - according to the Pentagon, he is away on "personal travel".

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