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    This file photo taken on June 02, 2015, shows Exxon Mobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson addressing the World Gas Conference in Paris

    Tillerson Can Improve US-Saudi Relations if Trump Heeds Advice - Ex-Ambassador

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    The US will be a more reliable ally to Saudi Arabia with Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State if President-elect Donald Trump listens to his advice.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The United States will likely be a more reliable ally to Riyadh once Exxon Mobil chief Rex Tillerson takes over the State Department assuming President-elect Donald Trump heeds his counsel, former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Robert Jordan told Sputnik.

    On Tuesday, Trump officially announced he would nominate Tillerson, chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil, to be the United States’ next secretary of state.

    "He [Tillerson] understands the neighborhood, the importance of oil, and the threats the Saudis face," Jordan said. "He will be a more reliable ally than Obama, if Trump listens to him."

    Jordan, a Diplomat in Residence at Southern Methodist University and author of "Desert Diplomat," explained that Tillerson is highly experienced in working with the Saudis.

    "Exxon is a tough negotiator and in the natural gas initiative bidding 13 years ago Exxon walked away from the table when the Saudis would not give them the rate of return they wanted," Jordan stated.

    Tillerson and Saudi Arabia, Jordan claimed, have many common interests from fighting terrorism to maintaining a reliable flow of oil. They also share a distrust of Iran, he added.

    The Exxon Mobil CEO is well suited for the position despite a lack of formal diplomatic experience, Jordan suggested, given he has run a company with about the same number of employees as and four times the annual budget of the State Department.

    "He knows how to run a complex organization, how to hire competent people, and how to cut through bureaucratic inertia," Jordan said.

    Jordan pointed out that the longest serving US secretary of defense was the president of Ford Motor Company, Robert McNamara, who was tapped to lead the Pentagon by President John F. Kennedy in the 1960s.

    Jordan warned, however, that much will depend on how Trump views the Saudis because the US president and secretary of state "need to be on the same page."

    The choice of Tillerson to be the chief US diplomat drew swift criticism from many Democratic lawmakers, particularly due to the oil industry executive’s business ties to Russia and expected advocacy for environmentally damaging fossil fuels at the expense of cleaner energy alternatives.

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    Tags:
    ally, bilateral relations, Exxon Mobil, State Department, Donald Trump Jr, Rex Tillerson, United States, Saudi Arabia
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