Washington: US President Donald Trump has ousted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replaced him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, orchestrating a major change to his national security team amid delicate negotiations with North Korea, White House officials said Tuesday.
Taking to Twitter the US President thanked outgoing Tillerson for his and said the new state secretary would do "a fantastic job".
"Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!"
Rex Tillerson, a former chief executive of ExxonMobil, was only appointed to the post just over a year ago. Tillerson had just returned from a shortened trip to Africa hours before Trump’s announcement. Trump offered no explanation for the change.
Donald Trump last Friday asked Tillerson to step aside, and the embattled top diplomat cut short his trip to Africa on Monday to return to Washington.
Pompeo will replace him at the State Department, and Gina Hapsel - the deputy director at the CIA - will succeed him at the CIA, becoming the first woman to run the spy agency, if confirmed.
The president - who has long clashed will Tillerson, who he believes is "too establishment" in his thinking - felt it was important to make the change now, as he prepares for talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, as well as upcoming trade negotiations, three White House officials said.