New York (AFP) – Donald Trump on Monday spent another day locked in cabinet-building talks as international suspense grew over who he will pick for secretary of state having already defied diplomatic protocol and provoked China.
The president-elect has so far named 12 members of his team — chiefly defense, health, treasury and commerce secretaries, attorney general, CIA director and ambassador to the United Nations — rolling out appointments well ahead of schedule compared to previous incoming US administrations.
But the world is keenly awaiting what will be his most prestigious appointment — America’s next top diplomat — scrutinizing the process for clues as to the direction US policy will take after the Republican is sworn in on January 20.
Names bandied about for weeks include former critic Mitt Romney, onetime CIA director David Petraeus, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker or even former UN ambassador John Bolton.
Now added to a growing list of reported names are some with less experience, some with top drawer credentials and others thought to more closely represent Trump’s vision of an “America first” policy.
Among the new names are Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, whom Trump meets Tuesday, Barack Obama’s former ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, and California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who on Monday emphasized his agreement with Trump’s call for closer ties with Russia.
Retired admiral James Stavridis, former NATO commander and current dean of The Fletcher School at Tufts University, is also scheduled to meet the 70-year-old billionaire Thursday at the request of the transition.
Emphasizing the uncertainty, outgoing US Secretary of State John Kerry warned in Germany on Monday that “anxieties” are sweeping Western democracies and stressed the need for strong transatlantic ties.
The populist tycoon has vowed to rip up key diplomatic achievements reached under Kerry — from the Iran nuclear deal to a Pacific rim trade pact.
– Provocative tweets –
Trump’s latest appointment was that of former rival and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson as secretary of housing and urban development on Monday. The transition said several additional cabinet selections are likely this week.
Also on Trump’s schedule Tuesday is Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, who has close ties to China’s president and is reportedly a candidate to become ambassador to Beijing.
Trump has sent mixed signals to China, America’s largest trading partner. Beijing has already protested to Washington after Trump took a phone call with the president of Taiwan — the first such call in around four decades.
Image Source: (AFP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
This is gonna be very important decision, and I think whatever choice he makes, we will hear some complaints and chirps from both sides…