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Tillerson Wins Over Some U.S. Senators; Others Wary Of Ties With Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) speaks to Rex Tillerson in June 2012, when he was chief executive of Exxon Mobil.

Rex Tillerson, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for secretary of state, has won over some Republicans on Capitol HIll, but Democrats have said they want more time to scrutinize his ties to Exxon Mobil and Russia.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker described Tillerson as "very much in the mainstream" of U.S. foreign-policy thinking on January 4.

Corker, whose committee is scheduled to start Tillerson's confirmation hearings on January 11, said he was comfortable Tillerson would lead a robust U.S. policy toward Russia.

Tillerson, Exxon Mobil's former chief executive, drove the company's expansion in Russia, became a friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and opposed sanctions imposed over Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Some lawmakers from both parties have expressed concerns about Tillerson's relationship with Moscow.

Asked if he could support Tillerson, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, who has described Putin as a "thug," said: "Sure. There's also a realistic scenario that pigs fly," the Houston Chronicle reported on January 4.

Democrats have called for a delay before Tillerson's hearing, citing his ties to Exxon and Russia.

Tillerson has moved to preempt possible criticism by severing all ties with Exxon to comply with conflict of interest rules.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and dpa