WASHINGTON Jan 4 Rex Tillerson, President-elect
Donald Trump's nominee for secretary of state, won over
Republicans during meetings at the U.S. Senate, but Democrats -
who want to delay his confirmation - said on Wednesday they want
more information about his record.
Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee, described Tillerson as "very much
in the mainstream" of U.S. foreign policy thinking.
Tillerson, Exxon's former chairman and chief executive,
drove the company's expansion in Russia for decades and opposed
sanctions imposed over its annexation of Crimea.
Many lawmakers, including some Republicans, have expressed
concerns about Tillerson's relationship with Moscow, given its
differences with Washington not only over Ukraine but also the
civil war in Syria.
U.S. intelligence officials have also concluded that Russia
intervened in the 2016 election to help the Republican Trump win
the White House.
Corker, whose committee will conduct Tillerson's
confirmation hearing, said he was comfortable that Tillerson
would lead a robust U.S. policy toward Russia.
"I think that what people are going to find when they see
Tillerson in the hearing is that he's very very much in the
mainstream of U.S. foreign policy," Corker told reporters.
Senator Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the foreign
relations panel, said after his meeting with the oil executive
that he had not reached any conclusion on Tillerson.
"We're just at the beginning of the process," Cardin told
reporters after spending about an hour with the nominee.
Tillerson did not speak to reporters.
Cardin said they had discussed issues including Russia and
Tillerson's view of sanctions, which he expects will be a focus
of Tillerson's confirmation hearing.
Cardin said it was too soon to discuss Tillerson's agreement
announced late on Tuesday to sever all ties to Exxon Mobil to
comply with conflict-of-interest requirements.
Democrats have called for a delay before Tillerson's
hearing, expected next week, given the complexity of his
financial records and ties to Exxon after spending decades at
the oil giant.
Cardin did say he was encouraged that Tillerson told him he
supported the Paris climate accord.
"That was encouraging to me. He stressed for me his
background in science and that he is a believer in science,"
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle,; Additional reporting by Susan
Cornwell; Editing by Alistair Bell)