Tillerson to skip meeting of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation foreign ministers

Russia's Foreign Ministry declined on Tuesday to confirm or deny reported plans by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to visit Moscow, expressing its surprise at the "regular leak" of information from Washington.

"He has already met with officials from Ukraine".

The officials said Tillerson would attend the G7 meeting in Sicily in May and then travel to Moscow.

Under president Barack Obama's administration, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation sought to shore up support for the pro-western government in Kiev after Russia's annexation of Crimea and its support for an uprising in eastern Ukraine.

"Donald Trump's Administration is making a grave error that will shake the confidence of America's most important alliance and feed the concern that this Administration simply too cozy with (Russian President) Vladimir Putin", Engel said in a written statement.

Visiting NATO headquarters in Brussels last month, US Vice President Mike Pence sought to reassure the allies about his government's commitment to them, particularly as the Baltic states and Poland fear Russian meddling in their affairs.

But Stoltenberg said after meeting Tillerson on the sidelines of a 68-nation anti-Islamic State coalition in Washington that he is sure all alliance members can find a date that works for everyone.

A former USA official echoed the view. He has questioned the wisdom of sanctions against Russian Federation that he said could harm USA businesses. He will instead be at President Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort for meetings with Chinese president Xi Jinping during the summit, Reuters said.

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.

  • Leroy Wright