US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is moving to eliminate or downgrade special envoy positions at the State Department, including the representative for climate change, the media reported.

In a letter obtained written to Senator Bob Corker, the Tennessee Republican who heads the foreign relations committee, Tillerson said on Monday that he would end or transfer as many as three dozen special envoy positions, reports CNN.

“I believe that the Department will be able to better execute its mission by integrating certain envoys and special representative offices within the regional and functional bureaus,” Tillerson wrote, adding “And eliminating those that have accomplished or outlived their original purpose”.

Special envoys for Syria, Sudan and South Sudan, and the Arctic will be eliminated.

Other positions dedicated to thorny diplomatic issues, ranging from Mideast peace to relations with Afghanistan, would be subsumed under existing State Department bureaus.

One area of oversight — the Office of Global Food Security — would be moved to USAID.

Three offices would be expanded — those dealing with religious freedom, HIV/AIDS and Holocaust issues. The special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations would remain under the office of the secretary, reports CNN.

Tillerson hinted at a reorganisation on his first day at the State Department, even before the Trump administration signalled its intent to cut up to 30% of the agency’s budget.

The revamp will “eliminate redundancies that dilute the ability of a bureau to deliver on its primary functions”, Tillerson said.

These changes, he added, will advance US national security interests and will help to “counter the influence of US adversaries and competitors”.

First Published | 29 August 2017 10:56 AM
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