Secretary of State Rex Tillerson agrees that his department needs budget cuts

"Clearly the level of spending that the State Department has been undertaking, particularly in this past year, is simply not sustainable", Tillerson said.

"It was determined, and many of you. found out, that the one seat that was available, it was chose to take a journalist who was not. from an outlet that doesn't normally travel with the secretary as part of an effort to include a broader representation of USA media", acting spokesman Mark Toner said, the Examiner reported.

Speaking in Tokyo as part of his trip to Asia this week, Tillerson was able to comment on Trump's intention to cut the State Department's budget, which has earned criticism from over 120 retired generals and admirals.

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Tillerson, who became the top USA diplomat under Republican President Donald Trump in February, travelled to Mexico and Germany last month with a small contingent of journalists, including a "pool" reporter who informed colleagues of Tillerson's statements or actions.

"Several of our members have traveled commercially to meet Secretary Tillerson on the ground in Asia", the statement said.

The website, the Independent Journal Review, said late Tuesday that IJR reporter Erin McPike is the lone journalist traveling with Tillerson on his tour to Japan, South Korea and China.

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The decision to travel on a smaller aircraft was Tillerson's, Toner said, and was in part an effort to save money.

Tillerson said the department was "coming off a historically high allocation of resources" adding that much could still be accomplished with "fewer dollars". He was rarely expected to answer media queries and never had to travel with reporters.

But Tillerson ended up taking a Boeing 737, which could have accommodated some of the usual contingent of State Department journalists, each of whom pays his or her own way for trips. They are expected to discuss Japan's plans to step up missile defense and the possible deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, as well as President Donald Trump's concerns about the United States trade imbalance with Japan, Reuters reported.

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Last week, the State Department officially offered McPike an opportunity to cover the secretary's upcoming trip to Asia. Skatell, who previously worked for the Republican Governors Association, founded IJR with GOP strategist Phil Musser in 2012.


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