'This can be very mean-spirited town', says Rex Tillerson on his farewell

CIA Director and Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo left attends a lunch meeting with President Donald Trump Vice President Mike Pence and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday at the White House

Tillerson, a former ExxonMobil CEO, often had a hard tenure at the State Department, sparring with Trump on key foreign policy issues, like the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate accord, and facing criticism for his management of the agency, which included massive reductions in staff and key positions left unfilled.

Outgoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Washington a "very mean-spirited town" in his goodbye address to State Department staff. "This can be a very mean-spirited town", he added, as employees gathered in the State Department's lobby chuckled and applauded.

Last Tuesday, President Trump announced via Twitter that he was replacing Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

Tillerson got sustained applause from staff, who clapped solidly for many minutes after Tillerson finished his remarks and while he slowly worked his way toward the exit, shaking dozens of hands as he departed, CNN reported.

But friends say that Tillerson, a former national president of the Boy Scouts of America, places a high premium on personal values, a theme he stressed in his short remarks which he told State Department workers were meant "to bid you a proper farewell". First, I must thank each and every one of you for the role you play in enabling the State Department to lead our foreign policy efforts and conduct the steady diplomacy and - that is the work of the department on behalf of the American people.

Addressing diplomats before he leaves at the end of the month, Mr Tillerson appeared to hint at Mr Trump's behaviour - though did not mention the president by name. "Only you can relinquish it or allow it to be compromised".

"In these times, your continued diligence and devotion to the State Department's mission has never been more necessary", he said.

"Not one of you was gifted it".

And finally, I hope you will continue to treat each other with respect. "It belongs to you, always has and will belong to you and you alone", he said.



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