Tillerson to skip North Atlantic Treaty Organisation meeting

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Businessmen: The new US Secretary of State alongside boss President Donald Trump. The foreign ministers have been gathering in late spring and December, and at the most recent session, former Secretary of State John Kerry attended meetings that focused on cooperation between North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union in a number of areas, from cyberdefense to hybrid terrorist threats. Tillerson laid the groundwork for the meeting during a visit to Beijing last week.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said later he was unaware of plans by Tillerson to visit Moscow.

Tillerson said he now talks to Trump on a daily basis but he claims to have never met the President prior to the November election.

"I can not fathom why the Administration would pursue this course except to signal a change in American foreign policy that draws our country away from western democracy's most important institutions and aligns the United States more closely with the autocratic regime in the Kremlin", he added.

The intimate interview with the conservative magazine sparked a firestorm for leaving the press corps out of his state trip to Japan, South Korea and China, a tactic that appears to reflects Tillerson's apparent disinterest in the political spotlight.

"It feeds this narrative that somehow the Trump administration is playing footsy with Russian Federation", said one former USA official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

State Department acting spokesman Mark Toner told reporters that the meeting's dates didn't fit in Tillerson's schedule.

The former diplomat, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said it was vital to present a united front toward Moscow.

"Given the challenge that Russian Federation poses, not just to the United States but to Europe, it's critical to engage on the basis of a united front if at all possible", the diplomat said.