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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has often been the silent man in the Trump foreign policy team.The Tillerson approach focuses on personal diplomacy, in direct contacts with Chinese and Russian leaders, and through private channels to North Korea. His core strategic assumption is that if the U.S. can subtly manage its relations with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin – and allow those leaders to take credit for successes – complex regional problems can be solved effectively.Tillerson appears to have preserved a working relationship with Trump despite pointedly separating himself from the president's controversial comments after the Charlottesville unrest. Although Trump didn't initially like Tillerson's statement, it's said he was ultimately comfortable with it.The North Korea crisis is the best example of Tillerson's diplomacy. Tillerson continues to work the Russia file, even amid new Russia sanctions.When Trump makes a disruptive comment, Tillerson seems to treat it as part of the policy landscape – and to ponder how to use it to advantage.
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