Posted: 12:50 am ET
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s first official trip as SecState is to Bonn, Germany from February 15-17 to participate in the G-20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.
According to a SAO, Secretary Tillerson will have “a couple of key themes from his meetings will be to reassure everyone of our continued commitment to transatlantic relations and to our commitments – transatlantic commitments in NATO and otherwise, and to urge solidarity with Europeans on Ukraine and on Russia, on the Minsk, and to push Russia to honor its commitments, both in Ukraine and elsewhere.”
He will also have a bilateral meeting with the Saudi foreign minister and a second meeting with a gathering of six of the key players (U.S., UK, the Emiratis, the Saudis, the UN, and the Omanis) to discuss Yemen.
In related news, career ambassador Kristie Kenney, one of the three remaining top senior officials at the State Department was reportedly let go this week. Ambassador Kenney was appointed Counselor to the Secretary of State in February 2016 (see Secretary Kerry Appoints Kristie Kenney as State Department Counselor). We do not as yet know if this is a resignation, or a retirement from the Foreign Service. With her departure, only one Senate-confirmed official remains at the top ranks of the State Department (Tom Shannon (P)). Career diplomat Bruce Wharton who previously served as Ambassador to Zimbabwe also remains as Acting Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (R).
Seven of the nine senior State Department positions are now vacant. It looks like all under secretary positions, with the exception of “P” and “R” are vacant with no officials designated in an acting capacity. For the Under Secretary for Management, we understand that one John W. Hutchison, a member of the Trump Transition is “Acting M” for 120 days.