World

Tillerson says Trump 'speaks for himself' on racist violence

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson defended American values after a UN panel criticised the official response to racist violence - but conspicuously declined to speak for US President Donald Trump.

Mr Trump triggered outrage earlier this month when he suggested that both sides were at fault after unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which a woman was killed when a white supremacist drove his car into a group of counter-protesters.

The US President went on to say there were "very fine people" on "both sides" of the protest, which began when torch-bearing young men in neo-Nazi regalia gathered to protect a statue of a Confederate general.

Mr Tillerson, when asked on Fox News Sunday whether Mr Trump's stance had made it harder for Washington's top diplomat to promote US values around the world, spoke for his State Department.

"We represent the American people, their commitment to freedom and to equal treatment to people the world over, and that message has never changed," he said.

Pressed on whether Mr Trump had undermined that message, he said: "I don't believe anyone doubts the American people's values or the commitment of the American government or the government's agencies to advancing those values and defending those values."

Interviewer Chris Wallace then gave him another chance to defend Mr Trump, asking: "And the president's values?"

"The president speaks for himself, Chris," Mr Tillerson replied.- AFP

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