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  • "Russia must be held to account for its actions"

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21:30 HRS IST

From Lalit K Jha

Washington, Jan 11 (PTI)
Russia must be held to account for its actions, even though cooperation with Moscow based on common interest is possible, Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson today said as he sought Senate confirmation as Donald Trump's nominee to be secretary of state.

"We must also be clear-eyed about our relationship with Russia. Russia today poses a danger, but it is not unpredictable in advancing its own interests," Tillerson said during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"It has invaded Ukraine, including the taking of Crimea, and supported Syrian forces that brutally violate the laws of war. Our NATO allies are right to be alarmed at a resurgent Russia," he said, adding that but it was in the absence of American leadership that this door was left open and unintended signals were sent.

The United States backtracked on commitments that it made to allies. "We sent weak or mixed signals with 'red lines' that turned into green lights. We did not recognize that Russia does not think like we do," Tillerson said.

Words, he noted, alone do not sweep away an uneven and at times contentious history between US and Russia. "But we need an open and frank dialogue with Russia regarding its ambitions, so that we know how to chart our own course," he said.

"Where cooperation with Russia based on common interests is possible, such as reducing the global threat of terrorism, we ought to explore these options. Where important differences remain, we should be steadfast in defending the interests of America and her allies," Tillerson said.

"Russia must know that we will be accountable to our commitments and those of our allies, and that Russia must be held to account for its actions," he added.

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