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The Latest: Tillerson says Mexico, Canada ready to negotiate

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks to State Department employees, Wednesday, May 3, 2017, at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s remarks at the State Department (all times local):

11:10 a.m.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says both Mexico and Canada are “ready to engage in a good-faith effort” to update their trade relationship with the U.S.

Tillerson is addressing employees at the State Department. He says the two U.S. neighbors understand it’s time to refresh the relationship. He’s alluding to President Donald Trump’s insistence that the North America Free Trade Agreement must be renegotiated or canceled.

But Tillerson says the relationship with Canada and Mexico isn’t “as rocky as it looks sometimes.” Trump is also pledging to build a wall on the southern border that Mexico strongly opposes.


11 a.m.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says “there’s almost no trust” between the U.S. and Russia now.

Tillerson is addressing employees at the State Department. He says the Trump administration is working to rebuild trust by starting one issue at a time. He says up first is Syria.

Following President Donald Trump’s call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Tillerson says the two countries are working to see if they can get a cease-fire that can hold.

He says he doesn’t know where the effort will go. If trust can be rebuilt, Tillerson says the U.S. and Russia have a “long list” of issues to work on, including Ukraine and an arms agreement.

Tillerson says he plans to meet next week with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of an Arctic summit in Alaska.


10:53 a.m.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the United States has prepared new sanctions to impose against North Korea if it does not halt provocative acts. Tillerson says the U.S. will take action against countries that do not fully implement existing United Nations penalties against the isolated nation.

Speaking to State Department employees on Wednesday, Tillerson said the threat posed by North Korea is the biggest foreign policy challenge that the Trump administration faces. He said the administration is testing China’s willingness to press North Korea to end nuclear and ballistic missile testing. Tillerson said the U.S. is about 20 to 25 percent of the way into that process and will continue to bring pressure to bear on China.

He added that the administration is taking a new look at relations with China and would next month hold the first session of a diplomatic and security dialogue with senior Chinese officials next month.


10:52 a.m.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the United States must not condition its national security efforts on other countries adopting U.S. values.

Tillerson was addressing State Department employees Wednesday ahead of a major overhaul of the agency. His comments come amid concern that the Trump administration is deemphasizing human rights.

Tillerson says if the U.S. creates conditions for other countries to engage with the U.S., “it really creates obstacles” to the ability to achieve U.S. security and economic interests. But he says it doesn’t mean the U.S. doesn’t advocate for freedom and other rights.

Tillerson says Trump’s “America First” approach means restoring balance in U.S. relationships with allies. He says over the last two decades, the U.S. “just kind of lost track of how we were doing.”

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