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Tillerson won’t 'bolster' Ivanka Trump on her India trip

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Ivanka Trump walks to the lectern as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson steps aside during an event about the 2017 Human Trafficking Report at the US State Department on June 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is said to be planning to send Ivanka Trump as the head of a low-profile team to an upcoming annual summit in India, breaking with the previous administration's practice in an apparent snub to President Donald Trump amid reports of tensions between the secretary of state and the White House.

Multiple officials at the State Department and a source close to the White House, all speaking on condition of anonymity, made the revelation in separate interviews with the CNN on Friday.

They said Tillerson’s decision not to send the department’s high-ranking officials to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, to be held in India’s Hyderabad next week, had almost nothing to do with his plans to slash the department's budget.

Back in June, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited the US president’s daughter to the three-day summit as this year's theme is supporting women entrepreneurs. The trip will mark Ivanka’s first highest-profile appearance yet representing the US.

In the previous administration, the State Department put on the large yearly event, which former Secretary of State John Kerry and even former President Barack Obama attended multiple times. However, this year, according to one of the department’s unnamed officials, “no one higher than the deputy assistant secretary is allowed to participate.”

“They (Tillerson and his staff) won't send someone senior because they don't want to bolster Ivanka. It's now another rift between the White House and State at a time when Rex Tillerson doesn't need any more problems with the president,” the official added.

The source close to the White House also said this year’s low-profile delegation was absolutely perceived by several key State Department officials as a snub, adding that the feeling dominant in the White House was that Tillerson and his team were completely reluctant to throw the support of the department behind Ivanka in the summit, which is an Obama-era creation that started in 2010.

“Rex doesn't like the fact that he's supposed to be our nation's top diplomat, and Jared [Kushner] and now Ivanka have stepped all over Rex Tillerson for a long time,” the source further said, adding, “So now, he's not sending senior people from the State Department to support this issue. He's not supporting Ivanka Trump.”

Tillerson openly referred to Trump as a “moron” during a July meeting at the Pentagon with members of his national security team and cabinet members.

Tensions between Tillerson and Trump have been simmering for months, sometimes visibly as the two have publicly diverged on some of the administration's most crucial foreign policy challenges, including Iran and North Korea.

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