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Tillerson Tells British Counterpart U.S. Takes 'Full Responsibility' For Intelligence Leaks


British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (right) meets U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the former's official residence in London on May 26.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has told his British counterpart that the United States took "full responsibility" for a leak of intelligence information related to a deadly May 22 terror attack in Manchester.

Speaking in London on May 26, Tillerson also assured British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson that the United States would not allow any terrorist organization to spread violence and hatred "without a fight" and will block their "efforts to recruit new followers, whether on the ground or online."

The top U.S. diplomat's comments came in the wake of the attack by a suicide bomber after a concert at the Manchester Arena in the northern English city that killed 22 people and injured about 60, many of them children.

As part of the investigation into the bombing, American officials have come under heavy criticism from British officials after reports of U.S. leaks of classified intelligence related to the attack.

On May 25, Prime Minister Theresa May told U.S. President Donald Trump that intelligence shared between their two countries had to remain secure.

Tillerson, speaking at a news conference with Johnson, condemned the release of "vital" information, and said the United States took "full responsibly" for the leaks.

"With respect to the release of information inappropriately, information that was released by someone, information that's vital to an ongoing investigation, information that's vital to capturing those who were involved in this heinous event, certainly, we condemn that," he said.

Tillerson added that Trump also condemned the leaks and called for an "immediate investigation and prosecution of those responsible."

The extremist group Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the Manchester attack -- the deadliest in Britain since 56 people were killed in an attack on the London transport system in 2005.

Tillerson said the extremists' "decision to target a concert full of children shows their intentions are not authored by God."

"ISIS worships death," he said, using an alternate acronym for the militant group. "In our mission to defeat ISIS, we are grateful for the help of people of all faiths and especially the many Muslim-majority countries who have joined us to win this fight."

Immigration Issues

During a gathering of NATO leaders in Brussels on May 25, Trump urged fellow alliance leaders to put immigration issues at the top of their agenda as part of the war against terrorism.

Tillerson told Johnson that immigration and the movement of people across borders is "a significant challenge in how we confront acts of terrorism, and it is a challenge given our free society."

Johnson said NATO "certainly" has a role to play in addressing the movements of people "coming up from the south, the southern Mediterranean area."

"I certainly think NATO has a role there, and I think the president is right in that – in that respect," Johnson said.

He added, though, that the United States and Britain are "countries that in many ways are built on immigration, and America is a fantastic country and economy that has thrived and prospered by the Statue of Liberty holding out its beacon to the world."

"And in our own country, we've had very successful integration over many decades, and we can achieve that," Johnson added.

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