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Tillerson To Visit NATO After Furor Over Skipping April Meeting


U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will visit NATO in Brussels next week.

WASHINGTON -- The United States says Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will visit NATO in Brussels next week, an announcement that follows furor over his earlier decision to skip a key meeting of the alliance's foreign ministers.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a March 24 statement that Tillerson would visit NATO headquarters in Brussels on March 31. He did not provide further details.

Reuters quoted an unidentified senior State Department official as saying on March 24 that Tillerson would convene with NATO foreign ministers on March 31 for a rescheduled meeting, though NATO did not provide an official statement on the matter.

U.S. officials said earlier this week that Tillerson was planning to skip the NATO meeting scheduled for April 5 and 6 in Brussels -- his first opportunity to meet with foreign ministers from all 27 other NATO countries.

Tillerson plans to visit Moscow shortly after that date.

The decision to skip the NATO foreign ministers meeting raised concerns from European officials about the Trump administration's commitment to the alliance.

The State Department later said it had provided NATO with alternatives dates for the meeting that would fit Tillerson’s schedule.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg then told the Associated Press on March 22 that he met with Tillerson earlier that day in Washington and that they agreed to have their staffs work out an alternative schedule.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP
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