State Secretary Tillerson takes only one reporter to Asia

Tillerson, speaking in Tokyo on March 16, was reacting to President Donald Trump's plans to cut the State Department's budget by some 28 percent.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said today that State Department spending can not continue at the current pace.

Toner insisted the accredited press is not being ostracized and that the 20 or so reporters who traveled to Asia on their own to follow Tillerson would have access to him.

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The White House proposal to cut the core State Department and US Agency for International Development (USAID) budget from $36.7 billion in 2017 to $25.6 billion in fiscal year 2018 reflects the Trump administration's expectation that the United States will be involved in fewer military conflicts overseas and that other countries will be contributing more for foreign assistance, Tillerson said. Major foreign policy initiatives, such as they exist in this administration, seem to have been taken away from the department. "In this specific trip and instance, it was chose to make an outside the box, if I could put it that way, decision to bring somebody in who doesn't necessarily cover the State Department".

"Clearly the level of spending that the State Department has been undertaking is unsustainable", he told a press conference in Tokyo. It also said the decision to travel without reporters was meant to cut costs.

Toner replied: "I think it sends a message that we're willing to look at new paradigms with our approach to the media, again, while at the same time ensuring that traditional media has full access and nontraditional media". News outlets such as CNN, New York Times, and Reuters complained regarding the matter.

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Tillerson, a former chief executive with the Exxon Mobil oil company, faces a tough first trip to Asia seeking to reassure nervous allies facing North Korea's growing nuclear and missile threat and press China to do more on perhaps the most serious security challenge confronting Trump.

The secretary has not been as press-friendly as his predecessor, John Kerry.

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