SINGAPORE (Mar 19):

1 The White House has seen its biggest shakeup yet under US President Donald Trump. On March 13, Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (pictured, left). He announced on Twitter that Tillerson will be replaced by CIA director Mike Pompeo (right). CIA deputy director Gina Haspel will be promoted to the agency’s top job. Pompeo’s and Haspel’s appointments will need to be confirmed by the US Senate.

Tillerson’s departure was widely anticipated. The former CEO of Exxon Mobil had clashed with Trump over major policy issues, such as how to deal with Iran and North Korea. However, the timing surprised observers as Tillerson had just concluded a tour of African nations. The firing also came a day after Tillerson criticised Russia for allegedly poisoning a former Russian double agent in Britain, a charge which Russia has denied. And his departure comes shortly after Trump accepted an invitation from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to hold a summit meeting. If it comes to fruition, this would be the first time the leaders of the two countries meet in person.

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