Newly-confirmed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told employees at the State Department Thursday that the agency’s diplomats should be permitted to express their political opinions but added that “we cannot let our personal convictions overwhelm our ability to work as one team.”
Tillerson spoke on Thursday, the same week a memo was signed by nearly 1,000 State Department officials expressing opposition to President Donald Trump’s recent order to temporarily ban travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Tillerson told employees he will adopt a “few core principles” of accountability, honesty and respect to ensure the agency operates in the most “productive and most efficient way possible.”
WATCH: Tillerson’s remarks to State Department employees
The U.S. Senate Wednesday confirmed the nomination of Tillerson, a former Exxon Mobil Corporation CEO. Tillerson will inherit a number of global challenges that include the Syrian civil war, North Korea’s growing nuclear capabilities, and increasing assertiveness from China and Russia.
As the nation’s top diplomat, Tillerson will also face more recent foreign policy matters such as increased tension with Mexico over the financing of a wall along the Mexican-U.S. border and Trump’s imposition of a four-month hold on refugees entering the United States.